Victoria Police aiming to increase diversity with new recruitment drive

Young men and women from Victoria's African communities are the focus of the force's new recruiting drive.

Dr Berhan Ahmed, from the Melbourne-based African Think Tank, coaches aspiring African police officers in their entry applications to the police force. 

For a decade, he's been advocating for greater cultural diversity on the force. 

"They keep doing meetings and orientations," Dr Ahmed said.

"None materialise with an outcome.

"From the time we started, by now, we should have a significant number of diverse police in our street." 

Victoria Police is keen to change.

It is now targeting young men and women from the state's African communities in a bid to increase its cultural diversity. 

But it says it will stop short of amending recruitment criteria to cater for cultural differences. 

African Think Tank's Dr Berhan Ahmed. (SBS)
Source: SBS

Official Victoria Police policy calls for what it terms a "diverse workforce which represents the community", and recruiting you men and women of African heritage is now a focus of its recruitment strategy. 

Victoria Police are keen to stress, however, the entry standard will remain the same. 

"It's important that we maintain our standards, not only for the prosperity of the police force and the community but also for individuals," Victoria Police's Stuart Bateson said.

"Policing can be a really taxing environment."

But Dr Ahmed believes that keeping the standard the same, isn't the best way to achieve the diversity goal. 

"What is missing in that is the diversity, inclusion, lack of understanding," Dr Ahmed said.

"Building trust with police and communities is critical.

"Having the standard with one monoculture is not helping us move forward."

Samuel Malual is of South Sudanese heritage.

Samuel Malual. (SBS)
Source: SBS

He is a diversity co-ordinator with the North Melbourne AFL club, and says he was "in and out of trouble" in his teens, and had a range of regrettable experiences with the police. 

And Mr Malual believes increasing diversity could help overcome tense relationships which at times can occur between police and various sections of the community.

"The police would definitely learn from that person culture-wise," he said.

"They would understand what these young kids go through and the background they've come from."

Published 21 March 2018 at 10:10pm
By Luke Waters, Matt Connellan