Six graduates who ‘may never have considered’ applying for Victoria Police are a step closer to sitting and passing the Academy’s entrance exam after successfully completing the second-ever Victoria Police Aboriginal Diversity Recruitment Program.

Delivered by Jesuit Social Services in partnership with Victoria University and Victoria Police, the program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants to navigate the Victoria Police recruitment process – teaching core skills and insights tested during the entrance exam, and providing mentorship to better familiarise applicants with an employer  changing to better represent the community it serves.

“That cultural shift, you can see it represented – recruitment ads look different from how they did six or seven years ago,” said Victoria University’s Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Vocational Education Wayne Butson.

“It’s really important, this program.”

Graduates of the second Victoria Police Aboriginal Diversity Recruitment Program stand before the Aboriginal Advancement League's life membership mural in Thornbury.

Students representing Gunditjmara, Kamilaroi, Wiradjuri and Worimi mobs graduated in front of their families and mentors at the Thornbury branch of the Aboriginal Advancement League, which was established in 1957 to promote Aboriginal rights and racial justice.

Addressing his cohort, graduate Caleb said the 15-week course was a “once-in-a-lifetime achievement” that had given him the skills and confidence to sit the Victoria Police  entrance exam.

“The more representation in Victoria Police, the more the public confidence in law enforcement grows, as does its ability to inspire change,” he said.

“Without this opportunity, I’m not sure if many of us would have considered putting in an application as soon as we have, or if ever.”

Caleb’s cohort was the second First Nations-specific round of the recruitment program, which was founded in 2018 to improve the cultural and linguistic diversity of Victoria Police.

More than 240 participants from 56 different cultural backgrounds have been supported by the program since its inception, with 53 offers made to join Victoria Police and a further 17 students currently training in the Victoria Police Academy.

"Without this opportunity, I’m not sure if many of us would have considered putting in an application as soon as we have, or if ever.”


Program participant

Mr Butson praised the collaboration driving the program – which is overseen by a steering committee comprising community organisations AMES Australia, MatchWorks, Africause and lawyers Maurice Blackburn.

“Part of the success of the program is having these different organisations come together. It couldn’t exist if it were just a training program; that’s what’s led to the outcomes.”

Jesuit Social Services’ Kate Bonusiak, who has overseen the program’s delivery since 2020, said the initiative helped both individual candidates find sustainable employment and Victoria Police more broadly.

“It has been exciting to watch the growth of participants on this round of the program,” she said.

“While focused on capability building and upskilling, this initiative also strives to create sustainable employment pathways and opportunities for participants to reach their full potential and break down barriers to help build trust and confidence in our state’s emergency services.”

Program graduate Caleb addresses his cohort.

Graduates were urged to share their identities and stories in their future work by program mentor Joshua James, a Noongar man from Wadani country in Western Australia’s coastal south-west, who has served with Victoria Police since 2019 and was voted the Academy’s first Aboriginal squad leader.

“Those stories that you’re told, from your ancestors, the people that are close to you – share them with your colleagues, instructors, squad members, because that’s what makes you a person,” said Mr James.

“If you do fail your exam, remember, reach out for assistance, and we’ll help you on your way. The only way to make change is community. Hopefully we’ll see you in the Academy very soon.”