Introducing Mr NAIDOC Perth 2022, Noongar Yamatji man Cohen Taylor, a force to be reckoned with

Cohen Taylor is used to wearing multiple hats, but he recently got a crown after being named the first-ever Mr. NAIDOC Perth on Saturday.

Introducing Mr NAIDOC Perth 2022, Noongar Yamatji man Cohen Taylor, a force to be reckoned with

While the relevance of beauty pageants is now questioned more than ever, the Miss and Mr. NAIDOC competition stands out from the crowd — especially the stereotypical “world peace” speech — although understanding and reconciliation are something the 23-year-old is desperate for. Wants for his community.

The Noongar Yamatji man, whose “crowd” was taken from their families during the years of the stolen generation, has seen his people living in “fear” of law enforcement.

“I learned about it and what the police did to our mafia, and it became an obsession, to be honest,” Taylor told AAA.

In 2019, Taylor, who lives in Morawa in the Wheatbelt, joined the Western Australia Police Academy as a cadet with a mission to restore his people’s relations with the police, drawing on his experience of “respect”.

“I had the privilege of living next door to a police officer who was a remarkable man,” he said.

“I want to be that person who can change the way our crowd can look at the uniform.”

Camera icon’s want to be that person who can change the way our crowd can view the uniform’ Credit: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian

But Taylor admits that being an Aboriginal police officer comes with challenges – especially his people who turn their backs on him.

“(There is) a stigma within my community that once you join the police force, you are no longer a black person, or you lose your Aboriginality,” he said.

He admits that struggling with these two worlds has been a source of constant “stress and anxiety”.

“It’s like two huge waves crashing into each other, and they need someone or something to redirect them,” he said.

“It’s hard, and I feel constant stress and anxiety about it.

“It would be easier if everyone got along.”

But in the three years since he joined the police force – he is now a police officer – he has already seen the positive impact of his actions.

“It goes from yelling at me to shaking my hand,” he said.

“I’ve seen people come up to me in the street and say to me, ‘Are you Noongar?’, ‘Yes, I’m a Noongar man,’ ‘Oh my god, it’s so good to see our crowd in uniform since with someone like you, I just feel comfortable’.”

Taylor’s friend urged him to sign up for Mr. NAIDOC – a six-week leadership and empowerment program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“First of all, I knew it was a great opportunity to apply my message and share my story because there are so many children, so many people who feel like they are alone,” he said.

The completion of Miss NAIDOC Perth was established in 2011, and this year’s awards mark the first year of the Mr. NAIDOC program.

“I had my bosses from work that the Superintendent called me . . . to congratulate me,” he said.

“Everyone in that room changed their real opinion about the police. Because everyone came forward, they hugged me, welcomed me, told me how proud they are of what I do and that they should keep doing what I do.”

Lori J. Kile
I love to write and create. I love photography, design, travel and art. I am a full time freelance writer and photographer.I am very excited to be creating new content and opportunities for my readers.