A STATE police chief in Australia has made a historic apology to indigenous people who are over-represented in prisons and vowed to improve race relations.

Western Australia police commissioner Chris Dawson said police have contributed to discrimination against indigenous people in the state over decades, including enforcing government policies of removing mixed-race children from Aboriginal families until the 1970s.

The children are known as the Stolen Generations. Many were institutionalised, abused and neglected.

“Some of the comments I’ll be making shortly are confronting and may make some people feel uncomfortable, but I understand that truth-telling is an important part of enabling and facilitating change,” Dawson said in a speech at police headquarters in Perth.

“And so today, on behalf of the Western Australian Police Force, I would like to say ‘sorry’ to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for our participation in past wrongful actions that have caused immeasurable pain and suffering.”