The strength of women in the Victoria Police is evident in Mildura with the new Area Commander, Inspector Michelle Young, recently being appointed to the position, replacing Inspector John Nolan, who has taken on a new role within the organisation.
“I have taken over from Inspector Nolan who is now in the role of Regional Emergency Management Inspector working within the Department of the State Emergency Services,” Insp. Young said.
“John now oversees our emergency management response in Divisions Five and Six, which covers from the Bendigo region, right through to Mildura and surrounds.”
Insp.Young, who has relocated from Geelong to take up her new role, said that Mildura’s lifestyle and vibrant community was at the heart of her decision to move here.
“I’ve been coming to Mildura for a number of years. I love the community feel of Mildura, the river is absolutely beautiful and the weather is just amazing,” Insp. Young said.
“I just love Mildura as a place and I deliberately chose to come to here. I have family here that I can catch up with and recreate life.
“And what I have noticed over the years I have been coming up here, is that the vibrancy of the city is increasing and it has a new feel.
“I think in some respects this may have been assisted by COVID-19 in 2020.
“And by that, I mean people are reassessing life, and what it looks like. Regional centres, including Mildura, have seen an influx of people and so that changes the feel, the vibe, and the demographics of a community.”
Insp. Young said that Mildura is like all other communities and has its issues and challenges in dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour.
“In Mildura there are fundamental areas where we can work together as a community,” she said.
“I see opportunities to improve the community’s perception of safety support.
“In Western region we have a strategic focus on what we call, the ‘community web of protection’.
“Some of the areas of opportunity that I also see in Mildura are around our youth and understanding some of the issues relevant to them.
“This includes identifying some of the drivers that may very well create a situation where they may fall into crime, they may fall into drugs and other socially unacceptable behaviour.
“Mental health is another area of concern, and I am aware that there will be more funding to provide additional services in Mildura which is wonderful.
“I also see the need to engage with our elderly residents and what do they see and need to feel safe and secure in our community.”
Insp. Young said that there is so much that police can do and that’s where her passion lies.
“That’s where I am very much committed to working with community, getting out and about and listening to the community,” she said.
“We have a great community engagement unit here in Mildura that is doing incredible work and I met with them recently to discuss what else can we do in that space.”
Insp. Young said she also wanted to reinforce some simple crime prevention messages.
“Please lock your cars, please make sure that you’re not leaving valuables in sight, check your deadlocks and the windows of your house,” she said.
“That will always be the message and so sometimes it’s around us taking responsibility for our own personal, property security – people sometimes make it too easy for the criminals!”
Insp. Young comes across as being a very optimistic, enthusiastic member of VicPol, and one who is determined to make a difference in the community she has chosen to serve.
“I am very optimistic. In 36 years I have seen a lot, experienced a lot, and fundamentally I see opportunity, not obstacles,” she said.
”Yes some things are challenges, but within them, there is always opportunity.
“I see part of my role is to be available to people, so they can talk to me, and they know that I’m listening to them.
”And if things are within my control – fantastic – and if they aren’t within my control, who else can I work with to find a solution or improve outcomes.”
As Insp. Young said, with 36 years of experience on the job, she has seen a lot in her time, which included a long stint working in the challenging areas of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Given what Inspector Young has seen and experienced during her diverse career over more than three decades with the Victorian Police, she has certainly developed a resilience and it would be understandable if someone in her role became cynical over that period of time.
“I worked in the area of child abuse and sexual abuse for 10 years. I have seen and experienced a lot in that space,” Insp. Young said.
“When I first joined and in my first two years, I was working at Russell Street on March 27, 1986, when the bomb went off, badly injuring 21 year-old Constable Angela Taylor, who died from her injuries on April 20, becoming the first police woman to be killed on duty in Australia,” she said.
“I was at the scene in Hoddle Street when he (Julian Knight) was still shooting.
“And I had to tell the parents of Steve Tynan he had been killed in Walsh Street.”
On Sunday, August 9, 1987, lone gunman, Julian Knight shot seven people to death in Hoddle Street, Melbourne, as they sat in their cars or were passers by.
The ‘Walsh Street’ police shootings were the October 12, 1988 murders of two Victoria Police officers: Constables Steven Tynan, 22, and Damian Eyre, 20. Const. Tynan and Eyre were responding to a report of an abandoned car when they were gunned down about 4.50am in Walsh Street, South Yarra.
“On reflection, it was in my first two or three years in the force that I built up my resilience,” Insp. Young said.
“If I woke up of a morning feeling completely cynical and thought ‘why am I even bothering to get out of bed’? – that would be the day that I would really have to consider resigning or retiring and calling it a day.”