Letter to the Editor The Age 18 March 2010

It’s always disturbing to hear of Victorians feeling marginalised, persecuted, and exploited for things as trivial as physical attributes, choice of attire, pattern of speech, lifestyle preference or societal affiliation. But there is a something particularly disturbing when allegations of this sort are made against those entrusted to serve and protect our community. Without wishing to pre-empt the investigation into reported claims of misconduct against Victoria Police in their dealings with African Victorians, we should all be concerned about the broader damage these types of incidents can inflict. In Australia, we accord a certain status and expect a certain level of moral conduct from those who make it their job to ensure we can go about our lives in safety and confidence. Indeed, it is precisely these higher moral and ethical standards that are designed to make the police serve as a model for all of us and an inspiration to do better in our engagements with one another. So when the high esteem we hold them in is shaken, the trickle down effect on the whole of society can be damaging; as has been shown in countless war zones around the world. No one doubts that police officers face many difficulties in the course of their job and perhaps we can all do better at showing our appreciation for their efforts. We know that at the highest levels of Victoria Police the highest standards are expected of all members of the force. But by the same token, figures of authority must keep in mind the tremendous weight of influence that comes with their positions. Victorians want to be proud of their police service and believe that every individual wearing a badge holds themselves to the highest standards of professionalism, courtesy and cultural sensitivity. That sensitivity is being modeled by the Police multicultural liaison scheme which is a good initiative and well respected in multicultural communities. However, Victorians need to feel that our whole police service embodies the finest qualities of our population and has our best interests at heart. It is vital to the success of our harmonious and stable way of life. Let us hope that the promised enquiry into this week’s alarming allegations helps to reinforce our expectation of exemplary Police conduct and the part we all play in making sure that is the reality. Sam Afra JP Chairperson

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