Victoria police band battle over, members take new positions

THE battle to save Victoria’s Police bands appears to be over with many of the band members recently agreeing to take up places elsewhere in the force. 

Only a small number of the band members are expected to attend the police academy and retrain to join the front line forces. 

The large majority are believed to have taken up property officer positions or retired. 

Victoria Police had three bands, Code One, the Showband and the Pipe Band, and are part of a tradition of police bands going back more than a century.

While it is expected the Pipe Band will still exist, the call to discontinue the other two came last September. 

The dispute has been before the fair work commission undergoing a conciliation process.

Advocacy group BandTogether spokeswoman Mel Schoo said the band had been an important resource for the community.

One of the reasons BandTogether was started, according to Ms Schoo, was to show band members parts of the community supported their existence. 

“The group (BandTogether) served an important purpose because band members were able to see the community valued their services because Victoria Police didn’t,” she said.

“A lot of the people were specifically recruited for a community engagement role. 

“The Victorian people have lost a really important resource and the value of preventative policy is not something that is easily quantifiable.” 

Ms Schoo said the officers in the bands were not trained to work on the front lines of the force with many recruited purely for their musical skills. 

She said she had received hundreds of phone calls and emails in support of the band and obtained 6500 physical signatures in support of the bands. 

The bands have been regular visitors to Ballarat and local schools in the past. 

Opposition police and emergency service spokesperson Wade Noonan made a speech in state parliament yesterday afternoon concerning the bands paying tribute to the contribution of the work done by the members. 

“Many Ballarat charities have benefited from annual police band concerts to fundraise vital money for their organisations to help the needy and disadvantaged,” he told The Courier.

“Without the police band as a draw card it will make it even harder for Ballarat and regional Victorian charities to raise funds to run their successful programs.”

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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