The Police Association of Victoria is misleading Victorians in a shameful scare campaign
[by Patrick Cook]
Victoria needs to invest in services that make communities stronger, not more police. Community services such as VALS’ Aboriginal Justice Hubs, which we have been trying to get Government funding for over the last 5 years.
The Police Association of Victoria Secretary Wayne Gatt has made misleading comments to the Murdoch Press, quoted in an article published overnight.
In this scare campaign, the Secretary of the Police Association claims that the police have fewer resources – which is completely false.
The truth is:
Victoria Police is the largest police force in Australia by raw numbers, despite not being the largest state by population or geography.
The Victorian Government provided $2 billion to Victoria Police in 2016, on top of their increasing regular funding, to help recruit almost 3,000 new police – but the Victorian Auditor General’s office found that there was no evidence that these new police improved the effectiveness of Victoria's frontline police response.
In the last 18 months, the Victorian Government provided $342 million for new police and over $200 million for new tasers.
In their last annual report, Victoria Police reported receiving more than $4 billion dollars from the Victorian Government compared to less than $2.3 billion in 2013-14, when the current government was first elected.
The Victorian Government’s spending on police, courts and prisons has grown at double the rate of any other state over the last decade, according to the Productivity Commission.
The Police Association Secretary also claimed that it was getting harder to solve crimes, despite the immense resources that the Victorian Government has showered them with. The Secretary did not back up this claim with data or explain why more police would improve the performance of Victoria Police.
Compare this to community organisations like VALS. Our government funding has not kept up with surging demand or inflation – yet we have continued to improve our services. Government should be investing in services like VALS, who can prove the benefit, and they
should stop spending on things that have failed to deliver a benefit to community, like endlessly throwing money at Victoria Police.
The Victorian Government should also reconsider investing in Victoria Police given the string of scandals that have plagued the institution over the last decade, particularly the Lawyer X scandal. Funding more police has not improved Victoria Police’s performance, but reprioritising existing expenditure on Victoria Police to fund a new, independent police oversight body will. That is why VALS is part of the #PoliceOmbudsmanNow campaign which Victorians can support at policeomudsmannow.com.au.
Apryl Day, Founding Executive Officer of the Dhadjowa Foundation said “It’s imperative that Aboriginal Legal Services like VALS have adequate funding to service our communities. Our family has seen first-hand how families and communities whose loved ones have died in custody have been forced to navigate lengthy coronial processes on their own. “
“Governments have a responsibility to support communities and families whose loved ones have died at the hands of the state. We need culturally appropriate services, like dedicated Aboriginal coronial support officers that assist families to navigate coronial systems while providing culturally appropriate support. From experience, those identified positions in Aboriginal Legal Services have made the most impact for families emotionally and systemically.”
Nerita Waight, CEO of VALS said “I’ve spent the better half of the last decade pleading with the Victorian Government to invest in Aboriginal legal services and we barely get a tiny fraction of what we need to support our communities to be safe and strong. It’s incredibly frustrating to hear Wayne Gatt cry poor when Victoria Police get so much money showered on them.”
“Given Victoria Police is the largest police force in Australia and has been given new weapons and new coercive powers by the Victorian Government, it is strange to hear Wayne Gatt talk down the abilities of Victoria Police. It sounds like the Police Association Secretary does not have much faith in his members to perform their duties.”
“The Government cannot afford to spend more money on new police, it has proven to be a terrible investment. They need to invest in services that actually improve community safety, like VALS’ Aboriginal Justice Hubs. When our people have the resources to help each other, we can make a real difference.”
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