EMPOWERED: Mildura police Superintendent Rebecca Olsen and former Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner, and current Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation CEO, Lucinda Nolan, at this week’s first ever Sunraysia-based Women’s Symposium.

WOMEN attached to both Victoria and New South Wales Police have helped make local history this week, coming together to take part in the first Sunraysia-based Women’s Symposium.

Organised and hosted by Mildura police and Western Division 6 Superintendent Rebecca Olsen, the event, which was held at the Euston Club and Resort on Tuesday, was inspired by this year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘#BeBoldForChange’.

The theme aims to inspire women to call for a better working world with more inclusion and  gender equality.

An estimated 85 women attached to both VicPol and NSW Police, and the Department of Justice and Regulation, enjoyed a star-studded line-up at the Symposium, which featured high-ranking members of both organisations, and Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation CEO, Lucinda Nolan, who is a former Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner.

Prior to joining the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, Ms Nolan was the first female CEO of the Country Fire Authority (CFA). She spent 32 years with Victoria Police, with much of her role dedicated to reducing crime rates and improving service delivery in the face of complex and competing crime, disorder and service demands.

Supt. Olsen, who has been with VicPol for 29 years, labelled the first-time event “a fabulous success.”

“This is the first time female members across the Mallee have come together for an event like this, with the day all about providing support and continuing to encourage women to make a difference,” she said.

“We challenged those in the room to embrace the ‘be bold for change’ theme, and to continue to be confident and make a difference.”

Supt. Olsen said among her personal highlights was hearing Ms Nolan speak, describing the former CFA CEO as an icon of the emergency services world.

“Lucinda’s a woman that has stepped out of policing to take on other roles, and while challenging, she’s approached them with bravery,” she said.

Other key speakers on the day was Superintendent Narelle Beer, who is attached to the Western Region – Operations Support.

A member of Victoria Police for more than 28 years, Supt. Beer has worked in most aspects of policing, including general duties, criminal investigation, corruption investigation, collision investigation, education, and corporate management/policy areas.

In 2008 she was awarded the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship for Ethical Leadership, presented by the St James Ethics Centre, and has also been awarded a number of scholarships, enabling her to travel to the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and the United States to study Police Ethics in Policing.

She was also awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 2013, travelling to the United Kingdom and the United States to undertake specialist training in integrity testing and corruption investigations.

Another high-profile speaker was Leading Senior Constable Maha Sukkar, who discussed her journey as a Muslin women working within Victoria Police. LSC Sukkar grew up in Beirut, and spent most of her childhood surviving in the war-torn country where she volunteered as an ambulance officer.

In 2000 she applied for, and was granted, a skilled migrant visa to Australia, joining Victoria Police in July 2004 after “two long years of waiting.”

LSC Sukkar had to persuade police management to accept her application, convincing them that wearing a scarf with her uniform would not be an obstacle.

In 2005 she represented Victoria Police in The Australia Indonesia Muslim Exchange Program, and in 2006 in the Australia Malaysia Exchange Program, 2015 Turkey Exchange program and 2016 JCMA Joint Journey to Jerusalem.

LSC Sukkar currently works as a Multicultural Liaison Officer in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, acting as a conduit between migrant communities and Victoria Police.

She holds a Graduate Certificate in Management, Batchelor of Graphic Design, Diploma of Quality Management and Assurance Diploma and Certificate IV in Training And Assessment, and is currently studying a Masters degree in Management.

“Maha was amazing, especially as the first Muslin woman to join VicPol,” Supt. Olsen said. “Diversity in the workplace doesn’t just apply to gender.”

Supt. Olsen said plans were also in place to turn the Symposium into an annual event.

“I’d love to see something like this held once a year, while also working to open it up to other emergency services,” she said.