How Australia's first Indigenous cop turned whistle blower

THIS is a book that has been a long time coming.

Code of Silence is the true story, incredible as it is, of Colin Dillon, the first indigenous policeman in Australia and the first serving policeman to testify at the Fitzgerald Inquiry. It has taken this long for Colin to tell his story because he "didn't think he had a book in him''.

That's quite remarkable considering Colin was in the midst of the turmoil that was the Queensland Police Force in the 1980s and leading up to the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

Over his 40-year career in the force, Colin continuously took a stand against corruption and worked tirelessly to improve the relationship between police and the indigenous community.

It cost him dearly. He suffered years of threats and harassment and his health suffered so badly he ended up in hospital.

But he always stood firm in his belief that shining a light on corruption not only exposed wrongdoing but empowered those who behaved honestly.

Code of Silence is an explosive account of Colin's experience in the years of vice and police corruption that were more scandalous and dramatic than any Hollywood movie producer could dream up.

Colin was the first serving police officer to voluntarily appear before the Fitzgerald Inquiry in 1987 and at the time was a lone man standing.

"The Fitzgerald Inquiry had made a call for honest police to come forward and they never got any response," Colin said. "So I volunteered. I didn't think the inquiry would go anywhere at that stage. But a man came to my home on a Sunday night at 8pm, unannounced, said he was a junior counsel assisting, and said there were many others who had come forward and it would be good for me to take the stand to flush out the system. That was an outright lie. I was on my lonesome to give evidence."

This was at a time when the Fitzgerald Inquiry was struggling for traction, and Colin's evidence was instrumental in eventually sending some police, including Police Commissioner Terry Lewis, and politicians, to jail.

It is only now, years later and after the urging of friends and journalists to tell his story, that Colin has put his tale to print.

"I am a grandfather now, serving on boards and committees. I'm happy to be alive, grateful every day I wake up."

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