Police role to protect marginalised: Blayney

Protective role: Assistant Commissioner of the Western Region Jack Blayney. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY
Protective role: Assistant Commissioner of the Western Region Jack Blayney. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

ASSISTANT Commissioner Western Region Jack Blayney used part of an awards presentation day on Tuesday to reflect on the role of police in a tolerant and diverse community.

Speaking at the Victoria Police's Western Region Division 5 medal and award presentation day at Bendigo's Capital Theatre, Assistant Commissioner Blayney said the day aimed to recognise the long service of members who "diligently and ethically serve our local communities".

"It's an opportunity for us to have a reflection on the work about the work that we do in terms of making the community safer and protecting it from harm, and in some ways we have even taken this sort of work for granted," he said.

He said Victoria was a historical haven for migrant communities seeking a better life or protection from oppressive regimes.

"If you’ve come from a migrant background, either in previous generations or in recent generations, in fact you have been in a situation where your previous generations came here to get a better life," he said.

"They saw the Australian and Victorian community as an opportunity to get their families employment, their children good education and to protect them from harm.

"That is something that is very rich in the Victorian community which we need to treasure."

He then spoke to some of the "challenges" to this in recent times.

"Bendigo is probably at the forefront of that in terms of being challenged from those that don’t seek to combine, those who don’t seek to unite but those who seek to divide," he said.

He said it was important to reflect on the critical role police played in upholding values of understanding, respect, support and tolerance.

"The society we enjoy is created through the work, the leadership provided by many members of the community," he said.

"The values - the values of understanding, of respect, of support, of tolerance - they’re all values that have been hard fought and won by previous generations.

"That’s what makes our community so attractive to others and that’s what makes it so important that they’re protected.

"From a policing perspective... we’re extremely important for the marginalised communities or those at risk... to protect them from harm... whether it’s with their children, their education, employment, whether it is practicing their faith, so that they can do it without harm, without being abused or otherwise ill treated."

He said people in such communities looked to police in a new country for their ability to be an authority for good.

"They come to Australia and they look to the police for a signal about whether or not they’re going to be welcomed, whether or not they’re going to be embraced, whether or not they’re going to be protected," he said.

"So it’s a very important part of our reflection as an organisation that we understand our leadership role in the community and we understand our role to protect the community, the whole community, and all the diversity within it."