African Australian Multicultural Employment and Youth Services (AAMEYS) strongly endorses Victoria Police's aim to bring more African Australians into the force, as announced by the Victorian Government with $479,000 in funding for the recruitment.
AAMEYS has been a driving force at the forefront of this welcome and overdue initiative.
AAMEYS pays tribute to our partners in this initiative: Jesuit Social Services, Victoria University, Adult Migrant Education Service, employment agency Matchworks, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Victoria Police.
AAMEYS Chief Executive Officer, Dr Berhan Ahmed, said the induction today of up to 19 African Australians into a 15-week pre-recruitment course at Victoria University - with another group to start in April 2019 - is the culmination of many years of tireless endeavour.
"Australians of African heritage are hardly represented in our police force, though the numbers in the African Australian communities are increasingly growing," he said. "Victoria Police, like all major institutions, needs to be more inclusive in its membership to better reflect our multicultural and diverse society which it serves."
"There is distrust between Victoria Police and some in these communities which also transfers to distrust with the whole justice system on the one hand and distrust of the whole community on the other. This has been a long-term problem, which we have been trying to overcome for over a decade.
"The recruitment of African Australians into Victoria Police, particularly those from refugee and humanitarian entry background, will be a huge step in building trust, understanding and a safer society for everyone."
Mr. Phil Brooker, AAMEYS Board member, said that up till now, recruiting African Australians into the force had been extremely difficult, citing cultural reasons as well as the justifiably high standards of Victoria Police entry.
He said many people migrate from Africa to Australia with good qualifications, but some - due to civil strife, famine and other hardships - come with little educational background or understanding of democratic societies.
AAMEYS and our partners in this initiative have used their expertise and experience to help us to reach this stage, building the stepping-stones to overcome the barriers and reach the required standards:
- Victoria University devising the pre-recruitment course which aims to develop the skills and the attributes to succeed in applying to enter the Victoria Police Academy.
- Jesuit Social Services in building social bridges for disadvantaged people to join the wider society have been working with African Think Tank , African Australian Multicultural and the many diverse African communities with main stream businesses to secure employment.
- Matchworks with its experience in dealing with the Federal Government including Centrelink.
- AMES with its long-standing expertise in migrant education.
- Maurice Blackburn with their understanding of the justice system and mentoring of potential recruits into Victoria Police.
- Victoria Police has been upfront in recognising they haven't been active enough with recruiting from a wider range of Australian communities, and now its willingness to support this initiative.
When Victoria Police announced in January 2017 one of the biggest-ever police recruitment campaigns, aimed at filling more than 3000 new policing jobs over the next four years, AAMEYS was ready to assist. We had many discussions with Victoria Police. AAMEYS then put this proposal to Victoria Police commissioner Andrew Crisp and this year, we are very pleased that the State Government has seen our project fit to support and fund this very important work and make it a reality.
AAMEYS and its partners have coached and mentored applicants who have chosen to join the initiative, and Victoria Police has screened those chosen. The majority of applicants have backgrounds from South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.
Those applicants who don't succeed in becoming sworn Police officers may have the opportunity to become Protective Service Officers.
"We want to make this journey a success," Dr Ahmed said. "The goal is building an environment of trust and inclusiveness, to have African Australians participating fully in Australian society, and creating respect for Australian democracy's institutions such as policing and the justice system."
For more info, contact Dr. Berhan Ahmed