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Taryn Brumfitt named Australian of the Year; honors revealed

Western Australian Governor and former Police Commissioner Chris Dawson is among six Australians awarded one of the country’s highest honors.

Dawson, 63, was named a Companion of the Order of Australia in this year’s Australia Day honors list alongside some of the most revered Australians including musician Archie Roach, who was awarded the honor posthumously, and Federal Court chief justice James Allsop.

WA Governor Chris Dawson, right, with Premier Mark McGowan. Credit:Getty

After joining the WA Police in 1976 as a cadet, Dawson was appointed a deputy commissioner in 2004.

In 2011 he was given responsibility for the security arrangements around the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth which was attended by the Queen and dozens of leaders of Commonwealth nations.

He left WA Police in 2014 to become chief executive of the Australian Crime Commission in Canberra and in 2016 became the inaugural chief executive of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

In 2017 he returned to WA to become police commissioner in 2017 where he remained until July 2022 when he replaced Kim Beazley as governor of the state – becoming the first police officer to take on the role.

Dawson was crucial in WA’s COVID-19 response as the state’s state emergency coordinator as well as being the role of vaccine commander in August 2021 to help boost vaccine uptake, particularly in remote communities.

When asked last year what his greatest memory of being a police officer was, he said finding Cleo Smith, the then four-year-old who was abducted from her campsite in WA’s north in October 2021.

The story made news across the world and sparked a frantic search that drew out some of the best police investigation work the state has ever seen.

Dawson was also recognized for his work to improve the force’s relations with Aboriginal people. In 2018 he issued a formal apology for historical mistreatment by the police.

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