Western Australian Governor and former Police Commissioner Chris Dawson is among six Australians awarded one of the country’s highest honours.
Dawson, 63, was named a Companion of the Order of Australia in this year’s Australia Day honours list alongside revered Australians such as musician Archie Roach, who was awarded the honour posthumously, and Federal Court Chief Justice James Allsop.
Dawson joined the WA Police in 1976 as a cadet and 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 Queen Elizabeth and dozens of international leaders.
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 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 played a crucial role in WA’s COVID-19 response as the state emergency co-ordinator, and was made 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 four-year-old girl who was abducted from a campsite in north-west WA in October 2021.
The story made headlines across the world and sparked a frantic search that led to some of the best police investigation work the state has ever seen.
Dawson was also recognised for his work to improve the force’s relations with Aboriginal people. In 2018, he issued a formal apology for historical mistreatment by police.