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Speech by John Searle at 2011 Victoria Police Jewish Community Reception

Speech by John Searle at 2011 Victoria Police Jewish Community Reception

07 July 2011

Firstly, on behalf of the JCCV, I would like to welcome everyone here this evening. I particularly welcome Acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, Superintendent Inghard Ehrenberg, Reverend Broughton, Sam Affra President of the ECCV, Sheiny New from the Jewish taskforce against family violence, Sam Tatarka, President of ZCV & many other Presidents community leaders, Rabbis and police personnel.

As is always the case it is an honor for me to speak as the representative of the Jewish community. As many of you know, the JCCV, it is the peak body of the Victorian Jewish Community. We have 60 affiliate organizations which cover a very wide range of religious, social, cultural, sporting, political, welfare and other organizations.

As the peak body of the Victorian Jewish Community we have the responsibility for representing our community to government, government agencies, the police, media, ethnic and religious groups and the like.

Tonight’s supper is an important event in our community’s calendar It lets us reflect upon the very warm  relationship that we have with the police community, publicly acknowledge the importance of the wonderful relationship and provide an opportunity for the interaction we can see occurring all over the room.

We have many organizations within the Jewish community that have strong ongoing relations with Vic Pol. For example there is The Jewish taskforce against Family Violence and we shall be hearing from Sheiny New a little later. We also have Hatzolah, JEMP and CSG who work with the police on an almost daily basis. Regarding CSG, I would also like to welcome Simon Glynn, who has just arrived from London to take up the position of General Manager of CSG.

I know from my dealings with our community organisations and my very frequent dealings with Vic Pol that the lines of communication are open and police personal are receptive and always willing to assist where they can.

One illustration of the benefits of the close and cooperative relationship we have relates to the reporting of incidents. There was a time when our community recorded a far greater number of antisemitic incidents than were reported to police. Consequently there was a discrepancy in the figures and I think it is fair to say the police were a bit suspicious of our statistics. Through a series of meetings with Inspector Margaret Lewis, Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana and Assistant Commissioner Jeff Pope, I explained some of the obstacles to community members reporting incidents on Shabbat and Yom Tovim. As a result of the meetings and explanations provided we jointly developed a system of direct reporting. The net result is that there is now no discrepancy in the statistics and the police have a better understanding of our community and the threats we face and this assists the police and us.

As can be seen the level of cooperation and assistance from the police is extraordinary and for that I thank you all on behalf of the Jewish community.

The police community has had a lot of publicity recently, not all of it desired and there have been some significant changes. To acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, I firstly congratulate you on being appointed Acting Chief Commissioner. I think we all appreciate that you have taken the reins at a difficult time and I wish you only success for your tenure. I heard you interviewed on the radio this morning about the likelihood of you applying for the job permanently. You said that you were thinking about it, and would talk to a number of people but most importantly you would discuss it with your family as it is important to have their support for such a demanding job. These were comments that impressed me and that I can relate to. I am not going to ask you to tell us if you have made a decision tonight but I do want to say that if you do take on the position permanently we in the community would look forward to working with you and building on our already strong relationship.

I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say about the challenges that you have faced thus far and your observations to date.

Many of you here this evening are engaged in areas where you will have constant contact with one another. So we hope that tonight gives you an opportunity to form closer bonds with some of the people you undoubtedly come across in your work or to meet people and develop contacts that will assist us all.

I want to thank Hilary McMahon & Julie Batty from the JCCV for all the work they put in to assist with tonight’s arrangements.

I also want to thank our Pianist, Polina Ratner for her performance that we all enjoyed so much.

Finally I also thank the members of the Multicultural Advisory Unit of Victoria Police for organising tonight’s dinner. I know how much work goes into organizing such an event and we truly appreciate your efforts. Thanks must go to Commander Ashley Dickenson, Marie Piu, Bruce Colcott and the other members of the team.

Thank you

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