Victoria Police’s diversity drive sees Indian-origin officers increase in numbers
They are young, capable, and ready to serve the community. And now they have the knowledge and skill to back them up.
Meet Vardhan Arora, Rupinder Sidhu and Gurpreet Sekhon, new graduates of the Victorian Police Academy, Victoria’s oldest and most distinguished organisation.
The trio were among the 33 graduates from diverse backgrounds that received their graduation at a ceremony held recently, at the Main Chapel in the Victorian Police Academy, Glen Waverley.
“It’s good to see that the diversity of our community is reflected in the graduates today, with some born in Australia and some born overseas,” said Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton. “I am pleased to see that Victoria Police has recruits that are truly reflective of our multicultural society.”
According to Minister for Police Lisa Neville, “One of the things that really strikes you as you look at the graduates today is the diversity of their backgrounds, jobs and skills. Victoria Police continues to be as representative of our community as possible and those skills will also strengthen the capacity of the organisation to deal with the challenges ahead.”
She added, “We have a changing and dynamic community with concerns to counter terrorism and challenges of dealing with youth offending, ice and family violence. These graduates have already confronted some of those issues during their training and placements and I know that they are very well prepared, through this training that is second to none, to deal with these challenges and keep Victoria safe.”
Assistant Commissioners Kevin Casey and Tess Walsh, and Victoria Police Association representative Ken Ashworth were among those present to support the graduates as they set out to professionally and confidently handle a range of duties and roles.
According to Gurpreet Sekhon from Punjab, who worked as a Protective Services officer for three and a half years prior to this, “It’s a long journey; there’s lots to take in and learn but I am looking forward to it.” According to him it’s a tough gig that requires a lot of hard work and one needs a lot of support from family to be able to continue. His goal is to join the Criminal Investigation Unit.
Vardhan Arora from Lucknow came to Australia when he was in Year 8. He initially started with Engineering but did not find it interesting, then decided to do a Bachelor of Commerce from Monash University and finally went on to join the public sector. He likes the diversity aspect of Victoria Police and he feels he is a good fit. Vardhan will be doing general duties in Prahran for the next few years and may take up Prosecution later.
“The process of selection is fairly lengthy but there is a plenty of time to prepare,” said Vardhan. “There are several resources that help you to reach the level of fitness and ability that is required in this role. It’s very doable as they are looking for normal people not Superman.”
Rupinder Sidhu came to Melbourne from Ludhiana and found the settling process a bit tough initially, however he persevered and found a job through an acquaintance. He even slept in tram stops for a couple of months before he found a place in a garage where he lived for a while. He eventually found his own place and is now well settled with his wife and little daughter.
He originally qualified as a Mechanical Engineer from India, then did Automotive Engineering in Australia and is currently studying Criminology and Social Justice on a part-time basis. He wants to either join the Highway Patrol or specialise in counter terrorism.
Law enforcers in India often come with the tag of corruption and Rupinder wants to set an example and change that perspective by doing the right thing and encouraging people to do so too.
When asked for their comments on the increase in crime rates in Victoria and how the situation will improve, Vardhaan replied, “There is a massive recruitment drive coming up in Victoria that will lighten the load for all the constables out there. It is very busy at all times and police are always going from one job to another. Hopefully with the extra numbers we will have that presence in the community and it will deter crime.”
“Bear in mind that sometimes statistics may tell you the wrong story,” Vardhan continued. “Stats go up because crime is reported more and people are encouraged to report incidents, which is a credit to the Police Force. Hopefully we will see a decline soon.”
Gurpreet chimed in, “Crime is definitely going up but I am more inclined towards community policing. We are trying to reduce crime by helping the community to improve, by making amendments, by changing their thinking. We are not there to punish criminals and put them in jail forever or kick them out. We are there to help them as they are part of the community.”
Rupinder, however, agreed with Vardhan. “I don’t think the crime rate has increased as much as the stats imply. What has changed is the reporting of it and the visibility through social media. Media plays a massive role because as soon as anything happens there is a camera around to capture it and disseminate it through Twitter, Facebook, news etc. I think that the crime rate is still the same, however, we are more informed about it nowadays,” he said.
“It’s kind of like when the PSOs kicked in crime went up because we were catching more criminals and crooks at stations than before,” Vardhan explained further. Before that people wouldn’t go to the police stations and report every incident but when PSOs started there was a voice and person that represented the Police and people felt it was easier to report.”
Whether the crime rate has spiked or not is debatable, however, for now it is reassuring that these bright graduates are committed to providing a sense of security as a vital part of their roles.