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14 October 2020
BY DYLAN DE JONG
Women are at the forefront of a new era of policing in the Wimmera and Grampians.
Earlier this year Senior Sergeant Tracy Johnston moved to the region to take on a leadership position at Horsham Police Station.
She previously worked as a detective where she investigated sex offences in a ‘Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team’ in Melbourne.
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In her position with Horsham Police, the senior sergeant has oversight of the station and her fellow sergeants.
She said after 16 years in Victoria Police she had noticed it was more common for women to be in leadership positions.
“I’m used to women being in roles of leadership,” she said.
“Since I joined Victoria Police, I believe it’s normal to have women in these roles.”
Snr Sgt Johnston said a career in policing was always something she wanted to pursue, however, she was 33 when she tried out for the first time.
“It’s been good to come to a country area and do a completely different type of work too,” she said.
Horsham Inspector Dianne Thomson said she hoped Snr Sgt Johnston’s appointment would set a precedent for women living in rural areas who were interested in a career in the police force.
“She will be a shining light and beacon for attracting female applicants to the country,” she said.
“Women in the community can’t be what they can’t see.
“If they don’t have role models like Tracy coming in and taking up positions, they just can’t see themselves doing it.”
Ms Thomson said women had started at four 16-hour remote police stations at Kaniva, Edenhope, Nhill and Dimboola, stations traditionally staffed by men.
“We didn’t have women out there before,” she said.
“For all of those communities, if they had vulnerabilities or felt unsafe or too vulnerable to talk to a male cohort, they would have very little options.
“The men out there have been more than supportive too.”
One police station in the Grampians region is bucking the national trend.
Halls Gap Police Station Snr Sgt Karen Bain leads an all-
female crew – a first in the station’s history.
“The opportunities for women in policing are a lot better than they were even a decade ago,” she said.
“I’ve been in the police force for 30 years. Back then it was a male- dominated workforce. Now we’re getting the gender balance right.
“It opens a lot more doors with specific and specialised areas for women. Now there’s a lot more women trying out for these areas because they are supported by women above them.”
The team of three, including Leading Senior Constable Kelly Harris and Senior Constable Sarah Bartorelli, have a strong focus on co-ordinating high-angle rope rescues to locate lost hikers and injured climbers throughout the tourist destination.
The entire October 14, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!