Mildura police Acting Senior Sergeant Kaare Anderson. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

‘THERE’S just got to be more to life than this.’

It’s a thought that each and every one of us has probably had at least once, especially when our lives reach a certain crossroads.

For Mildura police Acting Senior Sergeant Kaare Anderson, it was this thought that proved the spark for what has been a 30-plus year career on the beat.

“I remember thinking that there had to be more to life when I was working at the State Bank of Victoria – Head Office – Securities Department,” he said. “You could have trained a monkey to do the mundane tasks I was doing.”

At the suggestion of a long-time neighbour, Acting Snr Sgt Anderson decided to undertake a career change, with his mind firmly focused on joining the ranks of Victoria Police.

He, unfortunately, failed the entrance exam “by a couple of marks” on the first go, and so decided to write to Victoria Police asking for a second chance.  

“They gave me one, and I got through,” Acting Snr Sgt Anderson said. “Every police member remembers driving up to The Academy perched atop the hill in Glen Waverly. Daunting at first, but week after week it kind of grows on you.

“I recall my thoughts after getting my first exam results – 86 percent – I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this.’

“I spent 18 weeks at the Victoria Police Academy before graduating in February 1988.”

Acting Snr Sgt Anderson’s training days took place at Russell Street in Melbourne, with his arrival coinciding with a rather tragic anniversary for the station.

“I started there two years almost to the day after the Russell Street bombing,” he said. “Some of the staff who were working that fateful day were still there, and there wasn’t a lot of talk about it, but you could feel a steely resolve when those responsible were charged.  

“I recall the day the guilty verdict was broadcast over the radio… Camaraderie was at an all-time high, and it’s one of the things that I still love about this job – the bond you have with your work colleagues.”

The Russell Street bombing occurred on March 27, 1986, and was caused by a car bomb hidden in a stolen 1979 Holden Commodore. The explosion caused massive damage to the police station and surrounding buildings, estimated at more than $1million.

The blast seriously injured 21-year-old Constable Angela Taylor, who later died on April 20, 1996, becoming the first Australian policewoman killed in the line of duty. Twenty-two other people were also injured.

Acting Snr Sgt Anderson said that working at Russell Street station as a 21 to 22-year-old was “pretty damn good.”  

“Crowd control duties at the cricket and footy, and I remember watching big Joel Garner barrel down deadly missiles!” he said.

“The other good thing about Russell Street was temporary duties. They actually paid you $100 a day to go away, get experience working at a different work location in resort towns like Lorne, Echuca and in 1991 – sunny Mildura.”

Acting Snr Sgt Anderson’s first visit to the region occurred while Mildura still had an active passenger rail service.

“Itinerant workers would jump on the train and head to Mildura for picking during the grape harvest,” he said. “The only issue with the new workers in town was that they clashed with the locals.  

“This created more work for the coppers – hence a six-week secondment for the city boys to come and help the country boys out.”

Acting Snr Sgt Anderson said that his first reaction to Mildura was mainly centred on its weather.

“‘Bloody hot’ is the first thing you learn when coming to Mildura in February/March,” he said.

“But it’s a good dry heat, and the river is the best spot to cool off.  

“Having a water skiing background, and seeing what a fantastic resort the river and town had to offer, it was a no brainer to transfer in 1992.

“I spent nine years at Mildura before it was time for a break, and I then headed to the smaller 16-hour station at Red Cliffs. A great crew coupled with a slower pace was just what I needed before heading back into Mildura to take a promotion. 

“The good thing about Mildura is that there’s plenty of opportunity for development and diversity. 

“In 2012 I managed the Mildura Tasking Unit targeting burglaries and thefts, and more recently, in 2018, I took on the newly formed Community Engagement Unit.  

“Currently I’m upgraded to an Acting Senior Sergeant’s position working alongside the Station Commander.”

Acting Snr Sgt Anderson said the move had offered a good work/life balance.

“I can honestly say Mildura is a magnificent place if you’re looking for a great work life/family balance,” he said. “I can pick the kids up from school and be on the water skiing within 10 minutes of home, and riding dirt bikes through sunset country is also just on the back doorstep.”