Building closer ties with the Victorian Police
Over the past few years, Amaze has been working to build a stronger relationship with the Victorian Police Force, in a number of ways.
Assistant Police Commissioner Lucinda Nolan has been a strong advocate for people on the autism spectrum, through her unique position of being both a police officer and a parent. Lucinda’s personal understanding of the issues faced by our community is of great benefit to the force and she has spoken at a number of Amaze events about the work that is being done by her colleagues in this area.
One of these colleagues, Eva Perez, has been recognised for her work, through the Amaze Awards for Service to the Community 2014: Eva was awarded the top prize for Individual Achievement for her policy work, leading the design and implementation of their Mental Health Strategy, which now has a network of 120 mental health and disability liaison officers, an expert advisory panel and mental health clinicians. She also updated police training and education in this area and continues to work towards better understanding of disability throughout the force.
Last year, Amaze CEO, Fiona Sharkie, was invited to join the ‘Victoria Police: Disability Portfolio Reference Group’, which was set up to promote and strengthen the relationship with priority communities. It was formed in response to the ‘Beyond Doubt: the experience of people with disabilities reporting crime’ report released in July last year, and includes representatives from Alzheimer’s Australia (Victoria), Carers Victoria, Deaf Victoria, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Public Advocate.
As part of our membership of this group, Amaze provided advice on the use of language about autism by police officers in their day to day work, as well as in police and court interview processes for people on the autism spectrum. This included the use of ‘person on the autism spectrum’ rather than ‘autistic person’ and avoiding the use of the expression ‘suffering from autism’ and other terms that might incorrectly imply it is a disease.
This advice was gratefully received and is being considered as part of Victoria Police’s future plans for improving its work with people with disabilities.
Amaze and its community expressed high praise to Victoria Police for its outstanding efforts during the recent successful search for Luke Shambrook. Our thanks and praise were passed on to Acting Assistant Commissioner Rick Nugent who led the search, who in turn acknowledged this recognition.
Amaze continues to provide expertise to individual members of the police force on questions regarding our community in relation to driving, small arms, crime and a variety of other subjects, as needed.
We are very pleased to be continuing to strengthen our ties at all levels.