Media Release – 9/12/2015

The Australasian Council of Women and Policing (ACWAP) supports the need for change arising from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission survey findings.

ACWAP remains committed to improving policing outcomes for women in our communities and improving conditions for women in policing across Australasia.

Victoria Police remains a key part of the Australasian law enforcement community.  This report and survey finding is relevant to all policing and law enforcement organisation. ACWAP recognises the focus on harm prevention and safe, inclusive and respectful workplaces being essential to future sustainable service delivery.

ACWAP President Debbie Platz said, “ACWAP commends former Chief Commissioner Ken Lay and current Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton for their leadership and courage in commissioning this independent survey to determine the prevalence and extent of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and sexual predatory behaviour.”

ACWAP President Debbie Platz said:

“ACWAP is extremely disappointed though not surprised at the level of inappropriate and predatory behaviour outlined in the VEOHRC report. For several years, ACWAP has driven and communicated research and other surveys which have indicated the prevalence of unsafe, unhealthy and unwanted behaviour and workplace culture in multiple policing jurisdictions across Australasia.”

“In 2013 we commissioned an independent survey which saw 7% of women across all policing jurisdictions in Australasia participate. 56% advised that they had experienced workplace bullying, 1/3 of the women identified experiences of gender bias and 1 in 3 women had experienced a

form of sexual harassment.”

Policing is already challenging work. Officers are confronted by dangerous and traumatic incidents everyday and the additional stress of sexual harassment or a climate of sexism can ‘break’ women, as stated in the report.

ACWAP President Debbie Platz said, “the commissioning of this report reflects clear leadership by committing to understanding the problems and to then take positive actions to address them. ACWAP agrees with the safe space concept and independent member model to ensure ongoing improvement and harm prevention.”

ACWAP commends Victoria Police for committing to the development of new policies and implementing new reporting processes. Their challenge will be to reform workplace culture and shift some of the ideas and expectations that are engrained.  Consistent measuring, monitoring, reporting and evaluation across Australasia is a logical progression to the VEOHRC report being published.

Changing culture is incredibly difficult and ACWAP President Debbie Platz said she “encourages all jurisdictions to implement strategies such as engaging champions (both male and female role models) in the workplace, strong communication strategies, mentoring, professional development and education around the impact of unconscious bias and eliminating poor behaviours.”

ACWAP hopes that other policing jurisdictions will follow the lead shown by the Victorian Police and consider what is happening in their own jurisdictions.  It would be foolhardy to believe that this behaviour only occurs in one state.

The work of ACWAP supports the principals outlined in the reports recommendations.  President Debbie Platz said,

“We will continue to work collaboratively across our jurisdictions and with the community to address the issues raised, increase bystander interventions and address behaviours identified as being inconsistent with the values expected of Police.”

For further inquiries please contact:

President Debbie Platz – 0402 133 009

Secretary Anne Macdonald – 0428906354