Interview: David Tucker, Superintendent, Commander, Policelink

Tell us about the journey to your current role and what it this role entails?

This year marks 37 years in policing, from uniform duties, to plain clothes investigations, legal duties as well as officer in charge and District Officer managing disasters it has been an interesting journey.  My current role is managing the Policelink contact centre – with over 340 staff the contact centre provides both telephony and online reports for members of the community and is a very busy centre.  I rely on great advice from experts under my management.

Can you describe a project you are working on/recently completed, and any key challenges you have faced along the way and how they were overcome?

Over the past four years I have been working with LGBTI staff to have them feel more included within our workforce.  The need for the project was identified through understanding what people were saying in staff surveys, reading Yammer and seeing the challenges LGBTI people were facing in a policing organisation and then listening to their concerns.  One of the largest challenges was fear – that staff would not be listened to, that their views would be dismissed.  By demonstrating how change can occur safely, empowered staff who identified with the LGBTI community felt greater acceptance and were willing to participate more in the workplace.  The release of the video: ‘It Gets Better’ and the bespoke artwork ‘Look to the Stars’ are demonstrations of how different mediums can be used to underpin greater inclusivity and diversity in policing.

What did you learn from this project? What did it achieve?

What did I learn- you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Pick your battles. There is little I can do personally to change State policy so I won’t take any ‘failures’ personally, although it’s natural to feel disappointed. I will however focus my efforts into the things I can influence, such as the communities advocacy efforts and implementing the Economic Development Strategy in the best possible way. I am hoping this will achieve the outcomes the community I serve would like, being the delivery of a stable and sustainable local and regional economy. This strategy demonstrated that if you empower your staff, show them that they are valued, that they will be active participants in change and improvement.  Importantly change came from the front line, guiding management through a process of true inclusion.  It also demonstrated that these strategies could be applied to other diversity groups in a modified manner.

What excites you most about the future?

It is exciting that we are starting to understand true inclusion as an organisation as this will mean that diversity will follow.  Where you have an inclusive workforce, they talk, they share and draw other diverse people into the workforce.  It is also so beautiful watching people who were previously disempowered, now bold and forward thinking, willing to engage in further learning and development.  Also great that they want to share their information and show what a great workforce can be.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to further their career in government, what would it be?

Come in with an open mind, do not be afraid to be different, to think differently, be respectful of those who have walked the journey before – but be willing to undertake a respectful dialogue to promote change.  Learn to truly listen before you talk so you can understand when to have a difficult conversation and when to wait to talk.  Understand that change can be slow, and change can cost money but there is so much we can do with no budget, just a group of great people who want to make a difference.  Remember people who are different includes different faiths and those faiths will include beliefs inconsistent with your own.  Be respectful, listen, learn.  Remember…sometimes we are just not ready for change!

Where do you look to for further education? E.g. articles, podcasts, news sources, courses – e.g. University, online, internal etc?

I am on LinkedIn and enjoy reading some of the articles and views of people – especially areas I am not comfortable with.  I love sharing stories and reading the comments – other people sometimes think very differently.  Attending conferences is great, but if you walk away and do nothing – you have wasted your time and money – so a conference really needs to demonstrate its worth before I walk in through the door.  I also listen and talk with young people – the millenniums and gen Z have great ideas, if we do not tap into them, we will be in trouble – after all they will be the people looking after me in my old age!  I reflect, I write, I consider whether I should change my view.  Undertaking my Masters of Education taught me how to be a continuous learner – you do not get any more degrees but you can still soak in information.  I love travel and engaging with other cultures – you can learn so much sitting on a sidewalk, drinking coffee watching people from another country walk by.