The next Victorian Police Chief Commissioner must continue working with the GLBT community, GLBT advocates have urged.

After Simon Overland’s surprise resignation last week, Anti-Violence Project Victoria convenor Greg Adkins told the Star Observer the next appointee to the top job must continue working with the GLBT community.

“Our demands for anyone coming into that position is that the cultural shift in Victoria Police has taken place, that allows more victims of prejudice-motivated crime to step forward and talk about it,” Adkins said.

“We want an assurance that those changes are going to continue.”

Adkins said recent partnerships between police and the GLBT community have seen levels of reporting in metropolitan areas increase in the last six years, from one in 10 reporting incidents of heterosexist harassment or violence to three in 10making reports.

“Some might say it’s a 300 percent increase in confidence in police to be able to handle [incidents] appropriately,” Adkins said.

“In rural areas it’s probably only gone from a shade over zero to one in 10 and that’s where a huge momentum has to take place.”

Last month the Star Observer reported, following an internal review process, the Victoria Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit would be amalgamated with other minority group interests into a generic community engagement model. At the time, Adkins expressed concern that expertise dealing with the GLBT community may be lost in the process.

Speaking on GLBTI radio station JOY94.9 on June 3, Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe assured the community the centralised unit dealing with community concerns would strengthen Victoria Police’s ability to work with diverse communities.

“What we want to do is make sure we still continue to deal with the gay and lesbian community issues, deal with them in a positive, proactive sense,” Walshe said.

“We’re not going to step away from what we’ve been doing. We just believe we have a better structure which positions the organisation … better for the future.”

Adkins said the AVP will make a submission to Police Minister Peter Ryan to ensure the next police commissioner is aware of GLBT concerns.

“I want to ensure the issue [of GLBT prejudice-motivated crimes] is placed on the table,” Adkins said.

“We believe that cultural change that supports multi-culture, multi-faith, gay, lesbian and trans community must be a factor in the selection criteria for the appointment of the new commissioner of police.”

Since his appointment in 2009, Overland attended two two Pride Marches.

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