The region's first female Superintendent will finish up her time in the region next week after almost three years.
For almost half of her career, she worked as an investigator and manager in the fields of sexual assault and child abuse, before moving on to crime command. So taking on a managerial role in a regional area was a new experience for Superintendent Jenny Wilson.
But she has enjoyed every minute - both engaging with police members internally and helping to make changes externally to make the wider community a safer place.
With the move to Ballarat to oversee five different local government areas, Superintendent Wilson looked forward to the challenge of learning a different style of policing, explaining it was "energising" at that stage in her career.
Arriving in the police division, she had a couple of key goals in mind: improve community safety, address the overrepresentation of youth as both offenders and victims and improve transparency between police and the community.
In 2017, the crime rate was the highest it had been in five years. Superintendent Wilson was determined to address this, so every member of the community felt comfortable enough to go to out for work or leisure and to feel safe doing so.
In the last two years, the crime rate has reduced to around the same level it was in 2014. Superintendent Wilson said this was a "great achievement" and the challenge for the region's police was to maintain this performance going forward.
She attributes this decrease partly to police implementing a known recidivist offender management program.
"Policing is a whole range of things now - it's not just catching crooks, we have a whole range of social responsibilities," she said.
"What we say is that only 20 per cent of the population commits most of the crime, so we have been really focused on managing those people. Instead of allowing them to commit crimes and cause harm, we have tried to disrupt them from doing that in the first place as part of a prevention process."
In line with this, another goal was addressing the link between crimes and youth. With almost a third of offences in the division committed by youth offenders, Superintendent Wilson said youths were an extremely vulnerable group, also highly susceptible to victimisation and exploitation.
Youth are also often impacted by intergenerational issues around family violence and drug use.
As a result, Superintendent Wilson has worked to build relationships with other agencies - the departments of Justice, Education and of Health and Human Services - and business and community members to help these youth find a purpose and lead more meaningful lives.
Camps have been hosted with early signs "really positive".
"Youth are our future - our future workforce, parents, colleagues and children's friends," Superintendent Wilson said, noting this was why it was important for it to be addressed holistically, not purely with police enforcement.
Her third goal was to rebuild the confidence both within police stations across the region, in addition to the community's confidence in police members following Professional Standards Command investigations and another by the Independent Broad Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC), which had occurred prior to her arrival.
We've built the confidence of members and I think that we've become much more transparent and better at communicating with the community about issues too.- Superintendent Jenny Wilson
"We've built the confidence of members and I think that we've become much more transparent and better at communicating with the community about issues too," she said.
There were significant numbers of police experiencing mental health issues when she started in the job, but said the number of claims and amount of leave taken as a result of this had reduced in the last few years.
This was largely achieved by addressing the most common causes of trauma, increasing mental health awareness among members and increasing support and encouraging individuals to seek help if required.
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When she arrived in the region, Uncle Murray Harrison gave her a special welcome and from there she was pleased to meet and work with the region's Aboriginal community to reduce the community's involvement, particularly youth, in the justice system.
Another highlight for her was the establishment of the Central Highlands Family Violence Investigation Unit in 2018.
"We are now seeing better quality investigations and charges that better reflect the severity of incidents," she said, adding detectives were also able to investigate incidents that took place historically too.
She added she was also pleased to see a specialist facility built to house the unit alongside the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team.
Superintendent Wilson has also enjoyed spending time with the region's police veterans, as well as the 'legatees' - more commonly known as the police widows - who she explained were a vibrant bunch of people with fantastic stories about policing in the region in the past.
She has also been humbled to be involved with the Police Remembrance Day services.
Being part of Compassionate Ballarat has been another highlight for her. Superintendent Wilson was proud to be there when the City of Ballarat signed the charter of compassion after representing the committee at a council meeting and to be part of the week of compassion hosted last year.
The compassion which shines through in the city is something every resident could be proud of - especially during the COVID pandemic, Superintendent Wilson said.
"Whether the actions are big or small, seeing people suffering and doing something to alleviate that's really important."
Listing the example of the Continuous Voices art memorial, dedicated to childhood sexual assault victims, she said it was an example of a compassionate way to acknowledge a dark history but also how the community was moving forward.
While she deems it to be a positive step, she acknowledged that a lot more work needed to be done to address the high rate of male suicide in the region.
For personal reasons, Superintendent Wilson is moving into a new role outside the region.
She has learnt a lot about the community during her time here, as well as more broadly. She has been guided by knowledgeable colleagues through emergency situations, such as fires, and has learnt the true value of productive relationships with other agencies.
"Sometimes it doesn't matter what rank you are, it's actually about the knowledge you have and and your expertise, which you can have at any level. I think it's important to acknowledge that and be open to listening to those people," Superintendent Wilson said.
As the region's first female Superintendent, she said it was positive to see some diversity starting to emerge in police members working across the region - in relation to ethnicity, culture and gender diversity. She said there was still more work to be done, but believed it would happen in time.
Victoria Police statistics reveal that 34 per cent of employees across the organisation are female. In this police region (Western Region Division 3), 30 per cent of employees are female.
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"I've seen many female colleagues flourish and be successful in moving to a specialist area or receiving a promotion in my time," she said.
She said one great example of this was the increase in females in the highway patrol units during the last few years, which has expanded to a female sergeant and three other female members.
Through every role she has taken on in her career, she hopes to learn something new.
"What coming here taught me was that even after 30 odd years in an organisation, you can go somewhere new and still be challenged."
She will now move across to Professional Standards Command, based in Melbourne.
"I've never worked there before so that'll be a whole new challenge that is much more inward focused, rather than the community engagement that I have enjoyed here.
"It will really be quite a different role but I will go there and give it my best."
Superintendent Frank Sells will sit in the chair from early December, though no permanent replacement has been announced yet.