Banner Credit: Police on the beat in East Perth, mid 1950s. (Photo courtesy of WA Police Historical Society). 

Police surveillance was part and parcel of Noongar life in East Perth. 

Then and now, Aboriginal people were more likely to cross paths with police and be charged and imprisoned than non-Aboriginal people. 

In the 1960s, many of the laws and policies governing Aboriginal people were changing. However the Licensing Act, which restricted the supply and consumption of alcohol to Aboriginal people remained in place until 1970. 

During the 1950s and 60s, most charges against Aboriginal people were usually related to alcohol: either drunkenness or disorderly conduct or breaches of the Native Welfare Act relating to supply or receiving of liquor. (Makin, 1970 p 301).  

Storytellers recall the ‘monarch’ as a constant presence on the streets of East Perth.  The popular Noongar nickname for the police – 'monarch' – is similar to the Noongar word for white cockatoo – 'manaitch'.


Lindsay Calyun

John Pell

Shirley Harris

Ron Gidgup Snr


Detective Squad ‘Galaxy’ car of the 1960s.  (Photo Courtesy of WA Police Historical Society).

Cartoon from the Westralian Aborigine, 1955.

Police Night Beat Map from the 1950s (Courtesy of WA Police Historical Society)