After being severely criticised for advising Indian students to look "poor" to avoid attacks, Victorian Police Commissioner Simon Overland has now appealed to the community members to join his force in a bid to develop "greater trust and understanding" with them.
"The Victorian community is the most ethnically diverse in Australia. It is important that our police reflect this and that we attract officers from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, including the Indian community," Overland told a news conference on Tuesday.
This is the only way through which "greater trust and understanding" can be created with the community, said the Police Commissioner, who came under heavy criticism from the Indian community and other groups in February for his remarks that Indian students should look poor in a bid to avoid attacks on them.
"Policing is a worthwhile and credible profession which is rewarding, challenging and a secure career choice. We have high standards and want the best people for the job irrelevant of where you were born or your racial or religion background.
"It is all about your skills and ability and we want our recruits to demonstrate our key values of integrity, leadership, flexibility, respect, support and professionalism," Overland said.
Against the backdrop of a series of attacks on Indian students in Australia, there has been a strong demand to include more Indian faces in the local police force.
Overland said that in July this year Victoria Police would launch an official recruit advertising campaign to help employ 1700 additional front line police personnel over the next five years.
Victoria Police figures compiled in January this year showed that nine per cent of potential police recruits were born in India, three per cent in Pakistan and 2.4 per cent in Sri Lanka.
Of the 11,904 police officers working for Victoria Police in January, 730 or just 6.1 per cent were born overseas, including 34 officers born in the Indian sub-continent.
Overland said he wanted to see this figure increase considerably and attract more officers with diverse cultural backgrounds.
Overland was joined by several Indian-origin police members who shared their positive experiences with the media.
Dinesh Nettur of Indian and Sri Lankan descent, who had joined Victoria Police in 1997, said there were only a couple of police personnel of Indian background then.