We Must Be Vigilant To Keep All Victorians Safe

Monday, 22 September 2014 06:22

Today, it is more important than ever to reflect on what it is to be part of the community that is Victoria.

Australia is a large and peaceful country.

Our state of Victoria, in particular, has avoided the violence which has occurred in other parts of the world and that is because we pride ourselves on being a multicultural society which values, welcomes and embraces people of different cultures, languages and faiths. 

We live in one of the most successful multicultural and multifaith societies in the world. Our citizens come from over 200 countries, speak 260 languages and dialects and practice over 135 different faiths. Our State’s prosperity is based on this cultural diversity and inclusiveness.

In challenging times our belief is that diversity and our collective commitment to multiculturalism is critical. It’s one of our greatest strengths as a community and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of how valuable that strength can be.

I am not downplaying the reality of the world we live in today where our Federal Government has had to raise the National Terrorism Public Alert Level to “High”. 

The threats we are facing are real. As Chief Commissioner of Police, it is my job to make sure all Victorians are safe. I think we should all take some comfort from the recent arrests and understand that Australia’s security agencies and police are working hard to apprehend those who would threaten our security.

But in being vigilant – and vigilant we must be - we should not forget the very thing that makes our society so special.

Our society is full of hard-working, motivated people from around the world who have become our friends, our neighbours, our doctors, our educators, our business leaders, our sporting heroes, artists and many other respected and contributing citizens.

And together we share a peaceful community. 

That’s why it is so important that we keep the recent raids in Sydney and Brisbane in perspective. They are directed at people who would do our community harm.

And this behaviour has nothing to do with faith.

Our first priority at Victoria Police is ensuring the safety and security of the whole Victorian community.  We will do everything in our power to meet that obligation.

Sadly, in times like these, some of the worst traits of people appear in the form of racism and intolerance. Victoria Police will take decisive and firm action when dealing with racial vilification of any one racial or religious group.

That’s why the publication of the letter, signed by all members of Victoria’s Multifaith Council in today’s newspapers - calling for social cohesion in the face of the current security environment in Australia, is so important. 

I would urge Victorians: please don’t let these raids and the revised public alert level prejudice your view of multiculturalism because of a minority wanting to do harm. Be alert and be vigilant, but don’t forget our legacy of great friendship and inclusion.

We believe in the human rights of all law abiding Victorians, to live peacefully without fear of being harassed, or threatened. Victoria Police and the broader Victorian community welcome people of all faiths, all backgrounds and all ethnicities. It’s why we are a wonderful community and it’s why it is universally acknowledged that our ability to welcome people from the four corners of the globe has been one of our great political and social achievements.

Please remember the recent raids are to protect the community from criminal activity; they are not targeted towards any particular faith or community.

We have a lot to be optimistic about. So over the next few weeks and months, let us demonstrate those values that underpin the Victorian community such as respect, acceptance and above all else a commitment to uphold the law.

Please, enjoy your weekend, do the things that give you pleasure and take a moment to reflect on how lucky we are to be a part of the Victorian community.

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