13 September 2023

The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) proudly congratulates the recipients of the National Police Bravery Award for 2023, Constable Aaron Larsen and Constable Deborah Bradley from the Northern Territory Police Force, for their heroic actions during violent rioting at Wadeye in 2022.
NTPA President Nathan Finn said the National Police Bravery Award recognises officers who demonstrate bravery of the very highest order. “This is an award for police, by police and we are incredibly proud that two Territory Constables have been given this honour."
Below is a description of the incident Constable Larsen and Constable Bradley were nominated for:
In early 2022, the remote Indigenous community of Wadeye faced escalating violence due to ongoing feuds between local gangs and warring family groups, prompting residents to flee and straining critical service providers.
A large number of these persons had heavily armed themselves with weapons, which included, axes, home-made battle axes, steel bars, spears, rocks, crossbows and compound bows, among other dangerous and deadly weapons. As a result the community was subject to significant unrest, large scale property damage, serious assaults and even the death of one young male. Many residents fled the community to outstations fearing for their safety, and critical service providers experienced a decline in staffing levels due to the unrest.

On Wednesday 17 May 2022 at approximately 5pm Wadeye police members Sergeant Jamie Cobern, Constable 1st Class Matthew Grey, and Constables Aaron Larsen and Deborah Bradley were alerted to a large group of approximately 200 heavily armed persons fighting in the community. Without hesitation the members attended and spent approximately one and a half hours attempting to disperse the group.

At approximately 6:30pm police became aware that a male had been shot through the leg with an arrow from a crossbow. Due to the serious hostility and risk of harm, medical staff were not able to attend the location to assist.
Officers Grey and Bradley made their way to the injured male, rescued him, and conveyed him to the local health clinic for treatment. Upon arrival at the clinic, police and the injured male became subject of an attack. Approximately 100 community members began to throw rocks, and homemade spears towards police.
Officers Cobern and Larsen, attempted to disperse the crowd with verbal commands before stating that OC munitions would be used if they failed to disperse. Time became crucial, as there were serious concerns for the injured male to get urgent medical attention. At the same time, police were fearful for his, and the medical staff’s safety, as well as their own.
The large armed and angry crowd began to encircle the local clinic, as the intensity of the attack increased. Multiple projectiles were being hurtled toward police, and the injured male. There was no opportunity for the injured male or the police to escape or retreat.
The attack was intense and sustained for approximately 20 minutes. OC munitions were deployed, with little effect on the crowd. Ultimately, police used vehicle as a form of shield, reversing up to an entry point of the clinic. Officers Bradley and Grey carried the injured male inside, while Larsen and Cobern attempted to disperse the rioters.
Officers were heavily attacked with many projectiles narrowly missing them, including arrows, reinforced sharpened metal bars and other projectiles. Officers handed the injured male to staff for medical treatment and returned to their vehicle.
This large riotous group was not only attacking police but also damaging the critical infrastructure and attempting to break into the medical facility posing a real risk to persons inside. Constable Larsen continued to push the crowd back from around the medial facility and other critical infrastructure while multiple chemical munitions were deployed.  Eventually the crowd began to retreat and police regained control.  No further injuries were reported.
All of the members in this instance displayed exceptional bravery in a hostile and violent circumstance. They remained in location and used non-lethal chemical munitions and strong verbal commands. They displayed amazing teamwork and co-ordination to protect the life of the injured community member, health clinic staff, and themselves, along with critical infrastructure.
In Canberra for the presentation of the 2023 National Police Bravery Award to Constable Larsen and Constable Bradley, Mr Finn said “Their actions are emblematic of the unwavering commitment that our police force demonstrates daily. The brave men and women of the NT Police Force willingly place themselves in harm’s way, every single day. Their dedication to keeping our communities safe is nothing short of remarkable. Constable Larsen and Constable Bradley’s selfless actions are a shining example of policing in the territory and highlight the fierce dedication and courage that defines our police force. What makes their bravery even more extraordinary is they only joined the NT Police Force in 2020.”
The 2023 National Police Bravery Award winners were chosen by an independent panel from more than 20 nominations across Australia. The courage and bravery shown by these officers is just once example of what the 66,000 members of the Police Federation of Australia do on a daily basis: serving their fellow Australians and keeping us all safe.
Quote from Constable Aaron Larsen
“This is without doubt, the greatest recognition in my career to date and I am even more honoured to share the stage with my colleague and friend, Constable Deborah Bradley, and would also like to recognise two other Northern Territory police officers that displayed the same bravery we have been awarded for and they are Sergeant Jamie Cobern and Constable 1st Class Matthew Grey."
Quote from Constable Deborah Bradley
“This is the greatest achievement and recognition I have ever been presented. It’s an honour to share with friend and colleague Constable Aaron Larsen. I would also like to thank Sergeant Jamie Cobern and 1st Class Matthew Grey for their leadership on the night of the incident and the full team during the unrest in Wadeye in 2022.” 
Constable Larsen and Constable Bradley were presented with their award by Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, Police Federation of Australia (PFA) President Ian Leavers, and NTPA President Nathan Finn on Tuesday 12 September 2023, at the National Museum in Canberra.

Please direct all media enquiries to NTPA Communications Officer, Kyrrie Blenkinsop +61 (0) 499 017 654 or

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