This marks the final instalment in our popular On the Beat series, and you might say we’ve saved the best for last. Featured below is a father-daughter combination that proves the apple never really falls far from the tree…
MILDURA has been home to some extraordinary policing families over the years.
The Sylvesters are now among that group, with Leading Senior Constable Gavin Sylvester and his daughter, First Constable Kelly Sylvester, currently members of Mildura’s police ranks.
The father-daughter combo are Mildura residents born and raised, with their passion for policing ingrained from an early age.
Gavin said that he had “always harboured a desire to one day become a police officer.”
“After completing secondary college at the end of 1978 I was fortunate enough to commence my career with Victoria Police the following year,” he said. “Looking back now, the late ’70s was a different era, and recruitment straight out of school was the norm.
“Today, and for good reason, I believe people with the benefit of maturity, skills and life experience are the preferred applicant for VicPol.”
Kelly, meanwhile, named her father as her inspiration for wanting to join Victoria Police.
“Growing up I loved coming home and hearing his stories from work, and I always hoped I would be able to one day experience it for myself,” she said.
“Following high school, I graduated from the Victoria Police Academy in 2015, and one of my career highlights was Dad presenting me with my badge at my graduation.
“I have also been fortunate enough to work on the van with Dad, which I think taught us both a lot!”
Gavin’s first few years on the beat were spent in Melbourne, where he performed general duties at a variety of stations, including Williamstown, Russell Street and Port Melbourne.
“I had always wanted to return to the Sunraysia area… and in 1984 I transferred to a general duties position at Mildura where I have remained ever since,” he said.
“While I still perform general duties, my primary function involves various tasks, including taking court-ordered DNA samples from persons convicted of serious offences, interviewing and making recommendations regarding the suitability of people applying for a driver’s license after drink or drug-driving offences… to name just a few.”
Kelly, meanwhile, said that she had been lucky enough to secure a spot at the Mildura Police Station shortly after her graduation three-and-a-half years ago.
“Almost all of this time has been spent working in general duties, which has presented both challenging and rewarding situations for me,” she said. “You really never know what each shift is going to bring, and I love going to work and getting to experience something new every day.
“Sometimes this involves being exposed to things that the general community are often not confronted with, but the members that I work with make this part of the job a lot easier.
“We are a close-knit station and support one another incredibly well.”
Both Kelly and Gavin said that they enjoyed working in Mildura, saying the small-town feel provided numerous benefits for members.
“Working in a small town, we get to know our community well, who in turn offer us incredible support and assistance,” Kelly said. “I love meeting the people of my town, and hearing their stories.
“Country policing allows us to meet with, and really understand, the people that make up our community, and it’s meeting these wonderful people that inspires me to work hard to keep our town safe.
“Often we are required to handle situations without the help of specialist units that are based in metropolitan areas, which I find particularly enjoyable as it gives us a sense of autonomy and requires us to think on our feet and develop skills.
“Mildura has been an excellent station to complete my initial training, due in part to the variety of jobs I have been exposed too, but also having access to units such as Highway Patrol, Criminal Investigation Unit, Prosecutions and the Crime Scene Services, all working within the same building.”
“I have always wanted to be able to do my part in supporting Mildura and continuing to see it thrive, and being a part of the Police Force here allows to me to do this.”
Gavin agreed, saying that Mildura offered “a variety of work for police.”
“No two days are the same,” he said. “Mildura might be a long way from Melbourne, but while I have been based here I have still had the opportunity to work at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006… and at various sporting events such as AFL games, tennis and cricket matches and the Grand Prix.
“Like most jobs my time with Victoria Police has had its highs and lows – you take the good with the bad.
“Over the years I’ve had my fair share of less than pleasant duties, such as dealing with aggressive and violent people, delivering death messages and attending fatal collisions, and thankfully these are not every day occurrences.
“Some days are genuinely great – like when you get to reunite a lost child with their parents or see justice served following an exhaustive investigative process.”