Four new Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers funded by the Andrews Labor Government, have been recruited and have begun work further bridging the gap between Victoria Police and Aboriginal communities.
The new Liaison Officers – who all have Aboriginal heritage – work to improve understanding of the law as well as strengthening communication and respect between local Aboriginal Elders and groups, and the local police.
The new officers mean that the expanded state-wide Aboriginal Community Liaison team is now complete, with 13 officers working across the state, building on existing partnerships to support interactions between local police and the Aboriginal community to help resolve local issues.
Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers help to ensure that Aboriginal youth are referred to appropriate support services as well as early intervention and diversion programs.
They also mean that Victoria Police can better target potential crime areas, as well as better supporting members of the Aboriginal community who may be at risk of being a victim of crime.
The new staff have started work in Knox, Geelong, Echuca and Ballarat, and provide culturally appropriate links to services while helping to build a foundation of trust and respect between police and the Aboriginal community.
Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers are already working in nine other areas across the state, including Bairnsdale, Dandenong, Footscray, Mildura, Morwell, Northcote, Shepparton, Swan Hill and Warrnambool.
Building on the work done through the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement, this is another way the Labor Government is working to reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal Victorians in the justice system.
The Labor Government funded the new Liaison Officers – an investment of $2.7 million over four years – in its ground-breaking $2 billion Community Safety Statement, as part of the key priority to increase connection to the community and break down cultural barriers.
The Government also recently announced $1.5 million in Koori Youth Crime Prevention Grants for programs to empower and re-engage Aboriginal young people through early intervention, prevention and diversion programs.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville
“These Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers are working hard to bridge the gap between the local Aboriginal community and the police, and build greater trust and respect.”
“They are a crucial contact point for those in the Aboriginal community, who might not be willing to speak to police directly. They are appointed based on their strong cultural knowledge and ties to the local communities.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins
“The four new Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers will work closely with Aboriginal communities in Eastern Melbourne, Geelong, Echuca and Ballarat to develop strong and positive relationships.”