ABC: Actively recruiting for diversity is spicing up the ranks of Tasmania Police

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-20/tasmania-police-diversity-growing-in-the-ranks/13001524

Hana Lewis is sound asleep when her alarm jolts her awake at 4:50am.

Key points:

  • The current intake of Tasmania Police recruits has the highest number of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Tasmania Police ran a marketing campaign to attract applicants from diverse communities
  • The police force hopes having a more diverse workforce will help them better reflect the Tasmanian community

Hitting the snooze button is not an option; she needs to get dressed and head to the nearby oval to run laps.

Early morning exercise is a daily routine for Tasmania Police recruits like 51-year-old Ms Lewis.

“It’s lovely, I see all the sunrise of the world, I just love it,” she said.

The former flight attendant moved to Australia from the Czech Republic in 2003.

“Being from a different linguistic diverse background and being an older female, I’ve seen a lot, and I can understand minorities and what people are going through, through my life experience,” she said.

“And I quite like rules.”

Ms Lewis is one of 32 new Tasmania Police recruits.

The group has the force’s highest intake of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, at nearly 20 per cent.

It was partly the result of a marketing campaign, targeting people from various backgrounds, including Indigenous and LGBT communities.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Robert Blackwood said the force wanted to be more inclusive and better reflect the diverse Tasmanian community.

“We’ve looked at what might be cultural barriers for someone to join,” he said.

“Things like our uniform policy, making sure that small things like that are adaptable and flexible.”

Acting Assistant Commissioner Blackwood said having a more diverse police force was beneficial.

“Having greater diversity within the organisation will mean we’re going to have some different ways of thinking, some different ways of approaching problems,” he said.

“And hopefully being a bit more innovative, a bit more dynamic in resolving issues and ultimately providing a better outcome for the community.”

Bridging the gap

Hai Pham, 24, moved to Australia from Vietnam six years ago.

He shook off family pressure to follow a different career path.

“I did my bachelor in business, accounting and finance,” he said.

“Coming from an Asian background, my parents expected me to have either a law degree, a business degree, engineer or doctor, or you are a failure.

“So moving away from that traditional mindset is quite a big jump.”

Mr Pham said that while he enjoyed studying for his business degree, he did not aspire to a nine-to-five career.

“I prefer something more hands-on, to make a positive influence on people’s lives,” he said.

“I can actually contribute something, it really motivated me to apply to police.”

After he graduates, Mr Pham wants to help people in the community to connect with police.

“I feel there’s a gap there, people from other countries are a bit reluctant being comfortable talking to police, they’re coming from a different country, there’s not the connection there,” he said.

“So I feel like I’m trying to serve as a bridge to connect people, so that they understand that police officers are here to help.”

Bhavuk Sakhira has worked in several jobs since he moved to Hobart from India in 2014, including driving taxis and roles with a hire car company and a supermarket.

Joining the police force has been a long-held dream.

“Since childhood I was very fascinated to join the forces, like army, navy, police,” he said.

“But I could not, unfortunately, because there’s an age bar in India and I missed it.

“When I came here and I realised that there is no age bar in Tasmania Police, you can join at whatever age, I thought it was the opportunity to follow my passion, to fulfil my dream.”

Mr Sakhira said he was loving the challenges of being a police recruit.

“We have to study a lot, so that’s a bit demanding for me,” he said.

“It’s physically challenging, which is good, I don’t have to worry about going to the gym, it’s been done and we’re being paid for that.”

When asked what he would bring to the police force, Mr Sakhira showed his sense of humour.

“I personally bring a bit of spice and culture into the Tasmania Police,” he said.

“Knowing three languages is a great tool that I carry all the time, I can understand people culturally, what they want and how they feel.”

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