WORKING together and understanding cultural differences is the key to a safe community, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said.
Chief Commissioner Lay spoke at the Bendigo Festival of Cultures yesterday and watched the Karen community program.
He spoke about the value of multiculturalism in Australia’s society.
“We have one of the safest communities in the world,” he said.
“One of the key characteristics of our community is our multiculturalism.
“We are lucky in Australia that we understand the importance of respecting each other’s cultures.
“This leads to greater understanding and a more cohesive and tolerant society.
"We all must work together to make Victoria a safe place.”
Chief Commissioner Lay said he jumped at the chance to attend the Bendigo Festival of Cultures.
He said it was important for him to continue to learn about different cultures.
“We have people from 200 different countries living in our state," he said.
“Coming to something like this helps me learn more about and understand different cultures and people.
“It makes me a better Commissioner and allows me to understand my community better.”
The event also included Karen dancing, singing and traditional performance.
Karen women also performance traditional weaving.
Bendigo Festival of Cultures organiser Neomi Cummings said it was very important for the community, especially new arrivals like people from the Karen community, to listen to Chief Comissioner Lay.
"It's great for the people here today to understand the police are on their side," she said.
“It’s very valuable for the Karen people, because a lot of them are afraid of law.
“They have been persecuted by people of authority in their own country.
“So for the top chief to come out and talk to them, it’s wonderful.”
She said it was it was great thing for the community to hear Mr Lay speak out against racism.
“It’s important for the community to feel supported, from the top down," she said.
“We are very pleased he could make it.”