The Wyndham Citizens’ Academy (the Academy) is an innovative program in Melbourne’s west providing participants with an opportunity to learn more about Victoria Police and the justice system in Victoria.

The eight-week Academy program was designed for community members from diverse language and cultural backgrounds to help build on the strong relationships police have with Wyndham’s diverse community and help them to gain a thorough understanding of the justice system.

The first Academy ran in February 2019, with 18 participants from a diverse range of backgrounds taking part, including Indian, South Sudanese, Ethiopian, Somali, Malaysian and Filipino. A second Academy with new participants ran in July 2019.

Over eight sessions, participants were walked through the role of the parliamentary system in making the law, Victoria Police’s role in upholding the law, and the courts’ role in interpreting the law and providing deterrence.

The Academy also explored some of the programs that exist to intervene or prevent youth crime; the role and influence of the media, and how mediation can provide an alternative pathway to traditional justice.

Other Academy sessions included:

  • a tour of Victoria’s Parliament House, watching Question Time and meeting with their local Member of Parliament, the Hon. Tim Pallas
  • a tour of Wyndham North Police Station to learn about the role of police and the community in preventing and responding to crime
  • a visit to the Sunshine Magistrates Court and heard about the role of Courts in Victoria in interpreting law, preventing and deterring crime and sentencing
  • a visit to the Department of Justice and Community Safety office in Wyndham to learn about justice administration and services delivered by the department such as Births, Deaths, and Marriages; working at the department; and Consumer Affairs
  • a tour of a community legal centre to learn about the services and programs offered such as help navigating consumer law, infringements, motor vehicle accidents, tenancy, family law and more
  • learning about the role of community organisations that are working to prevent and disrupt youth crime in Wyndham.

In June 2019, Wyndham CEC hosted a graduation event for participants of the first Academy.

Photo: Wyndham Citizens' Academy graduation in June 2019

The Academy program was developed following community forums in Point Cook, Werribee, and Hoppers Crossing in late 2017 as part of the Wyndham Community Safety Network. Wyndham is one of 12 communities where a Community Safety Network has been set up as part of the two-year project.

The Academy was developed by the Wyndham Community Safety Committee, comprising Victoria Police, Department of Justice and Community Safety, Wyndham City Council, Odyssey House, WEstjustice, VicRoads, and community members. It is being delivered by Wyndham Community & Education Centre (Wyndham CEC).

A documentary was made about the experience of participants and how their understanding and appreciation of Victoria’s justice system evolved through their program journey. To watch the full documentary, visit Wyndham CEC’s YouTube channel (External link), or watch this short video below to learn more.