A Victoria Police officer has completed a 775-kilometre pilgrimage trail across Northern Spain to raise money for LGBTI youth organisation Minus18.
Constable Jeremy Oliver from the Collingwood Police Station spent 25 days in July walking the Camino de Santiago, raising $3,450 dollars for Minus18 in the process.
“All throughout my life I’ve been passionate about youth and providing them with education and support to navigate their toughest years,” he told the Star Observer.
“I grew up in New Zealand and really utilised one of their LGBTI youth networks, which was integral to my development when I was younger.
“So to be able to support a similar organisation down the track – and the incredible work Minus18 is doing for young people – is amazing.”
Over the course of the 25-day trail, Oliver said he would walk for eight hours non-stop every day, and get the opportunity to share Minus18’s work with fellow travellers from around the world.
Before he even left Australia he had already fundraised two thirds of his ultimate figure.
“I’m a small town country boy, and if we had had social media or the reach Minus18 has when I was younger, it would have made all the difference,” he said.
“I see how far and wide they can reach now, to small towns around Australia, and provide those kids with access to events and education and support.
“So to help support them and give them a platform in some way is important.”
As a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) with the Victoria Police, Oliver hopes by fundraising for Minus18 he can help to let younger LGBTI people know that they have a support network if they ever need it.
He highlights the historical challenges LGBTI people have faced when needing to access police services.
“I’m really passionate about getting out into the community and letting younger LGBTI people know that if they feel uncomfortable about accessing police services, there are GLLO officers you can speak with,” he said.
“Prejudice motivated crime is underreported in our community, but people should always come in and say something.
“I think being able to reach our youth and let them know the importance of reporting things to their parents or a GLLO officer is so important.”