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Victoria Police checks on the Jewish Community

Victoria Police checks on the Jewish Community

07 July 2011

In another outstanding event, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) celebrated the 5th anniversary cocktail party with Victoria Police on Thursday 7th July. Evidence of the close relationships built over the years between Vicpol command and the Jewish community were abundant as could be seen by the easy camaraderie of local officers and Jewish community leaders swapping stories and laughs over pickles, salmon and fried fish. Acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay spoke warmly of his long term good relationship with the Jewish community although keeping very tight on whether he would indeed apply for the job as Chief Commissioner.

Hosted by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) and Victoria Police, the evening was well attended in number and representation by police from head and local levels. In attendance were a number of Assistant Commissioners, Superintendents, District Inspectors and Station Commanders. Also in attendance was Sam Affra, President of the Ethnic Community Council of Victoria as well as leaders of other ethnic communities such as the Islamic Council of Victoria. The building of good faith and myth busting that can be achieved informally over good food is immeasurable.

John Searle, JCCV President, expressed his gratitude for the warm relationship and open communication between the organisations. He said “I know from my dealings with affiliates and Vic Pol that the lines of communication are always open and that police personnel are receptive and willing to assist where possible. This can be seen through initiatives such as the joint development of direct reporting for identity related crime enabling Vic Pol to have a better understanding of our community and the threats we face. As well, the community has strong ties with VicPol through organisations such as the Jewish Taskforce against Family Violence, Hatzollah, JEMP and CSG who work with the police almost daily.”

Acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay spoke about the importance of the close relationships both at a senior police and local level to enhance understanding and cooperation. He spoke of how far the police had come in breaking down barriers with multicultural communities through changing misconceptions.

Sheiny New, spokesperson for the Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence (JTAFV), as guest speaker, delivered a chilling and poignant speech urging women to come to them for support and work Together to Break the Cycle of Shame. Ms New described the wonderful people in the taskforce, who were prepared to publicly speak out about the realities of domestic violence in the Jewish community which had been dramatically under-represented to police. Sheiny said, “we understood why, we understood the shame, the fear of stigma, that anyone would find out what was REALLY going on behind closed doors. It is not unheard of in some parts of our community for women to have 14 children – or more. If she disclosed, where would she go? How would she provide for her children? Shelters aren’t an option for religious women. How would they get kosher food?”

Sheiny thanked former Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon for her role in spearheading cultural and attitudinal changes in the police force and the employment of Family Violence Liaison Officers stationed at local police branches, who specialize in responding to disclosures of violence and abuse. The expansion of the Family Violence Protection Act of 2008 now includes emotional, psychological, financial and sexual abuse, so a woman no longer has to show up in hospital beaten to a pulp for anyone to believe that she is the victim of an insidious crime. Sheiny thanked many within the police force for their compassion and dedication.

Ethic communities and Vic Pol are now much more closely aligned through the wonderful work of the Multicultural Advisory Unit and many other Vic Pol initiatives. The launch of the Prejudice Motivated Crime Strategy on Friday 8th is just another step forward in the constant improvement to our society as we strive towards a safer and more harmonious community.

For more information call Michelle Coleman, Executive Director on 9272 5566.

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