Rotary and Victoria Police celebrate a decade of Mentoring


The Victoria Police Leaders Mentoring Breakfast on September 19th, 2017 brought together top police, four Rotary Districts, a dozen Rotary clubs and mentors reaching back to the program’s start ten years ago. Ninety attendees at the RACV venue celebrated a decade of one of Victoria’s landmark Rotary programs. 

Ambulance Victoria is now talking with Rotary for a parallel program in mentoring for its future leaders. District 9800 Governor Peter Frueh says 204 police from Senior Sergeants to Assistant and Deputy Commissioners have paired with Rotary, business and community organisers to improve their leadership, problem-solving and outreach.

In 2016-17 fifteen Senior Sergeants and their mentors finished the course. For the past several years Rotary has handled one-on-one mentoring of the Senior Sergeants, to boost their front-line community involvement. The mentors, all Rotarians, also pass on their business and organisational know-how. Higher-ranking police are mentored by senior business executives in a spin-off from Rotary’s original program.

At the breakfast VicPol’s Chief Commissioner Graeme Ashton said by video-link  that his three current deputies had all done the program. “That speaks volumes about the benefits,” he said. “You’re now challenging our people on the community front-line to find new perspectives and check their assumptions. The program’s longevity shows how effective Rotary’s been.”

The Senior Sergeant and mentor pairs meet once or twice a month for a year. The senior sergeants often bring in other colleagues informally. The program creates safe spaces where issues can be aired that are hard to air in the police confines.

Present was VicPol Assistant Commissioner Jack Blayney who was mentored several years ago. Also present were Acting Assistant Commissioners Sharon Cowden and Cindy Miller.

Rotary Districts were represented by District 9810’s District Governor Malcolm Chiverton, District 9820’s Don Ripper, and District 9780’s Assistant Governor Andrew Pipkorn. District 9800 was represented by District Governor Peter Frueh, District Governor Elect Bronwyn Stephens, Immediate Past District Governor Neville John and Assistant Governor Kate Strain.

Club Presidents, Mentors and members came from Melbourne, Flemington, Kew, Prahran, Maffra, Portland, Horsham, Bayswater, Chelsea, Nunawading, Rowville-Listerfield, Mt Waverley, and Central Melbourne.

One table comprised those who pioneered the exercise in 2007 – Steve Hallis, Keith Frampton, John Meehan, Kevin Scott, Michael Dixon, and Stephen Brown, backed by then-Rotary Central Melbourne President John Ilott. 

Assistant Commissioner Kevin Casey, who chairs the ten person steering committee, said the senior sergeant cadre was in the vanguard of VicPol’s community liaison drive. “Police are good at solving problems and getting straight to the point. But in the past they operated mostly from a perspective of a lifelong career only in policing,” he said.

“My own mentor was a female younger than me, who provided a non-judgmental sounding board, insights and options for experiments.”

Casey said typical feedback from his people included “impressive, innovative, inclusive and high levels of leadership and networking.”

He praised the steering committee work of Michael Stillwell of the Stillwell Motor Racing and sales group, and Alan Seale (ex-chair of City West Water). The pair has concluded four years’ work creating the structures and recruitment drives for the grass-roots mentoring. The committee has four senior police, three business leaders and three Rotary members.

Other speakers included Peter Batten (District 9810’s Chelsea RC) on highlights of his mentoring, and mentee Senior Sergeant Jeff Cocks from North West Region Crime Squad.

Raffle proceeds of $1140 will be shared by VicPol Legacy and the CBD Youth Homeless Program.

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