Out and about in Heidelberg
Policing is not a 9-5 job but at Heidelberg Police Station they try to make sure the roster works for everyone.
Just like the suburbs they police, Heidelberg members’ lives are diverse.
“We had two sergeants who job shared, we have a part-time Police Custody Officer who’s the primary carer for his children, myriad part time people in Prosecutions and some on the crime desk, there’s more flexibility here than you realise and we just run with it, it’s business as usual,” Acting Senior Sergeant Joele Brown said, explaining the station’s colourful roster.
Some members are on secondment to other areas and will bring back valuable new skills and perspectives; others are investigating and disrupting crime across the station’s various units, while some are enjoying holidays or caring for family members young and old.
After a year on maternity leave, First Constable Heidi Twining was back on deck across the corridor.
“I wanted to come back and everything was on the table, full time and part time,” Const Twining said.
“Going part time wasn’t an obstacle, of course you have to apply and the Inspector has to approve it but I didn’t have to fight for it or stress about it while I was on leave.”
“It’s far better to have Heidi, and other members, here on flexible terms than not at all,” Acting Sen Sgt Brown added.
“Your life outside the job can affect your working capacity and we want people to function as productively as possible and not have to worry.”
On the watch house, Const Twining dealt with reports of stolen cars, helped members of the public at the station counter, liaised with the team of Police Custody Officers and said hello to a visiting colleague’s new puppy.
“I joined Victoria Police because I wanted to make a difference,” she said.
“I was nervous coming back as I had to spend three days at the Academy updating my operational skills but I was surprised how quickly it came back to me.”
Const Twining will soon be promoted to Senior Constable in line with her squad mates as maternity leave counts toward years of service.
“You’re not penalised at all for going on maternity leave which is good,” she said.
“And they’ve recently changed it so you can be upgraded to more senior ranks as a part timer, which really opens up your opportunities.”
Members can even work part-time across multiple units to complete full-time hours.
“Initially I was concerned about part time but it actually gives me more flexibility around when I roster the shifts,” Heidelberg’s Senior Sergeant Lindsay Cook said.
Many changes have come about as a result of the 2015 Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s (VEOHRC) independent review into Victoria Police, the recommendations for which were accepted in full.
The report, which Victoria Police instigated, found an entrenched culture of “everyday sexism” and a high tolerance for sexual harassment.
Victoria Police is now working hard to reset the workplace culture to ensure all employees feel valued and respected and realise their full potential. All policies and processes around flexible work hours were reviewed and best practice procedures for preparing for parental leave, staying connected while on leave and reintegration into the workplace were introduced. These changes benefit both male and female members to have a healthy work/life balance.
“VEOHRC has been a real positive,” Sen Sgt Cook said.
“Previously when a member went on parental leave they were not replaced, now there’ll be a team of members to backfill at stations when required and the remaining hours from members going part time can be filled, so there’s no disadvantage to local stations to be flexible.”