A police member who coordinated a sensory-friendly and person-centred search for a young autistic man has been recognised with the 2020 Public Advocate Award for Outstanding Police Service to People with Disability.
Acting Inspector Christine Lalor worked closely with the young man’s family and teachers to ensure the search approach considered his sensory and communication needs. She effectively communicated this approach to the more than 350 volunteers, police and emergency personnel involved in the search, resulting in the young man being appropriately approached when found.
The award was presented at an online event on 3 December 2020 to coincide with the International Day of People with Disabilities.
Now in its fifth year, the Public Advocate awards recognise police members, employees and units that have made an outstanding contribution to and improving outcomes for people with disability and delivering a police service that is accessible, inclusive and responsive.
They include two awards for police stations nominated by Independent Third Persons (ITPs) – OPA volunteers who support people with disability during police interviews.
This year, the ITPs selected Melbourne West police station for the metropolitan award and Ballarat police station for the regional award.
The ITPs said police members at both stations were very helpful and patient with people with disability, treating them and the volunteers with respect.
The Employee award went to Lydia Popec, who was described as a quiet achiever, a champion of disability awareness and inclusion though her dedication and commitment to the VP Enablers Network.
Special commendations were presented to Natale Cutri and the 311 Victoria Police Complex Project Team for their commitment to creating an inclusive workplace.