LEADING Senior Constable Janine Walker’s ‘bigger heart’ has captured Victoria Police’s attention.
Her community outreach to increase awareness and understanding of people living with dementia was recognised in the force’s public advocate’s awards at the World Trade Centre on Friday. The ceremony, hosted by Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, was to honour work units and individuals within Victoria Police who have provided consistent or outstanding service to people with disabilities.
Leading Senior Constable Walker became involved in Bigger Hearts, a program for a dementia-friendly Ballarat. to help foster awareness for people living with dementia in her role with the Ballarat police proactive unit and in her seniors portfolio for the division.
The initiative took her on a journey that has both surprised and really touched the leading senior constable who, when speaking publicly on her experience, always says the first thing she learnt was people live with dementia, rather than suffer from dementia.
Leading Senior Constable Walker has become involved in Tuesdays at the Turret, a meeting group for people living with dementia and their loved ones to chat with community members. She also took part in the Bigger Hearts Exchange as a ‘story catcher’ to speak one-on-one with a person living with dementia, then sharing how she felt afterwards, on camera, about the importance of having conversations with people living with dementia.
“There is no reason why people with dementia can’t be included in all sorts of activities and events in our community, “ Leading Senior Constable Walker told The Courier in the film’s launch late last month.
“I especially enjoyed listening to the stories and learning about the lives of the people I met, beyond the fact that they are living with dementia...My conversation truly was an eye-opener, engaging a member of the community who, even though is living with dementia, can still have a fruitful conversation.”
Leading Senior Constable Walker’s experience has led her to coordinating a community support register in Ballarat. She continues to actively explore new ways to make Ballarat more dementia-friendly and safe.
Celebrate Ageing director Catherine Barrett nominated Leading Senior Constable Walker, on behalf of the Bigger Hearts campaign.