The Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivery (IPROWD) program has welcomed its largest cohort in its 11-year history.
Seventeen-year-old Cindy Marshall is one of 22 new students in the program and said it’s very encouraging to see so many other young people starting at the same time as her.
“Knowing that there’s other people in the same shoes that I am. It’s awesome,” she said.
“I was worried and concerned that I was going to do this alone, but knowing that I’ve got a whole group now, it’s like a family. It’s exciting and I can’t wait to see the end.”
Eighteen-year-old Kale Johnson agreed and said while he knows it will be a challenge, he’s glad he’s got a support network to back him up through the program.
“It is challenging physically, mentally and academically,” he said.
“We’ve got all the support that we need and all the help we need. We’ve got each other.”
Redfern police crime manager detective chief inspector, Despa Fitzgerald, said she’s also excited to see so many new students entering into the course.
She said through the program students learn about policing as well as Indigenous culture.
“The students learn about culture and their heritage, but also with the police,” she said. “They come up once a week to the police station and learn about policing and in particular the laws and police ethics as well.”
Even though it’s been tough, Kale said he’s loving the program so far and for him it’s a dream come true.
“I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for two years now,” he said. “I’ve worked with police at many incidents. Every time I’ve been on the scene with police I wish it was me in that blue uniform.
“I took a big step when I found out about the IPROWD program. I got my application in, packed my bags and moved four hours away from home.”
Both Kale and Cindy say they want to make a difference in their community in any way they can.
“The dream for me is to make detective,” Kale said. “I want to join the drug squad. I’ve seen family and friends be taken away by illegal substances and it’s absolutely horrendous.
“It tears families apart. It tears communities apart. I want to patch that up as much as I can.”
Cindy said she wants to be a role model and help improve the relationship between the Indigenous community and the police force.
“I’ve heard there’s a gap to be closed between the Aboriginal community and the police force and I’d like to be part of closing it,” she said. “I want to be a good role model.”
Detective chief inspector Fitzgerald said it doesn’t matter if IPROWD graduates end up employed in the police force, or somewhere else, it’s still seen as a success.
“Whether they join the NSW Police Force or another government agency that’s still a win, that’s promoting Indigenous students going into employment,” she said.