In an era where gender equality is emerging as a fundamental concept in both governmental departments and private enterprises, the pursuit of fair job opportunities for all genders has gained significant traction. However, this commitment to gender equality often remains on the surface, lacking real-world implementation. In this landscape, the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) stands out for its resolute support and proactive implementation of gender equality within its ranks.

The VPF has set an example by fostering an inclusive environment that allows both men and women to actively participate in policing duties across the nation. This robust commitment to gender equality is ushering in substantial transformations within the workplace, society, and the entire nation. These transformative changes are underpinned by visionary leadership, aiming to enhance the organisation, the community, and society at large.

Over the past two years, under the leadership of Commissioner Iavro, the VPF has undergone a series of pivotal changes, aligning closely with the decentralisation policy of the Vanuatu Government. These changes include:

1. Implementation of the Decentralisation Policy:This strategic move has resulted in the construction of new police stations and posts, significantly expanding the reach of policing services to previously underserved regions.

2. Augmented Logistical Support:Remote police posts now benefit from increased logistical support, including the provision of vehicles, boats, deployment kits, and uniforms. These enhancements ensure more effective service delivery to these remote communities.

3. Diplomatic Partnerships:The VPF has proactively cultivated strong relationships with aid donors and diplomatic partners, securing additional resources and support to enhance its operational capabilities.

4. Enhanced Deployment:Recognising the importance of a visible police presence, more officers have been deployed to remote areas. This strategic move ensures that communities receive the policing services they need and deserve.

5. Promotion of Gender Equality:The VPF has committed itself to actively promoting both male and female officers to senior positions within the organisation, championing gender equality at all levels.

6. Strong Support for Gender Equality:The VPF demonstrates its unwavering commitment to gender equality with the appointment of women to head key units within the organisation, setting a precedent for gender-inclusive leadership. Notable leaders in these roles include:

  • Sergeant Jenifer Warsal, OC Professional Standard Unit in Santo.
  • Sergeant Jane Pakoa, OC VPF Media.
  • Inspector Lily Joel, OC Family Protection Unit.
  • Inspector Marie Japhet, OC Interpol.
  • Inspector Bianca Simeon, Commanding Officer RVS Emma Kate.
  • Senior Sergeants taking leading roles as Instructors at the Police Academy.

7. Fair Representation:The VPF actively ensures that both male and female candidates are fairly represented in police recruitment efforts, guaranteeing equal opportunities for all who aspire to join its ranks.

8. Personal and Professional Development:Officers are not only encouraged but also supported in pursuing further studies and continuous learning to facilitate their career advancement within the VPF.

These tangible changes have not gone unnoticed, culminating in Commissioner Iavro’s well-deserved nomination for the Champion of Change Award at the 2023 Australian Council of Women in Australia and Pacific (ACWAP) Excellence in Policing Awards. This prestigious accolade recognizes the pivotal role men play in advancing gender equality within the policing and law enforcement sector.

Commissioner Iavro’s nomination underscores his significant contributions to the cause:

  • Transformation of Workplace Culture:Commissioner Iavro has played a pivotal role in reshaping the workplace culture to empower both women and men in their journey towards gender equality.
  • Enhanced Responses to Gender Issues:He has actively worked towards improving policing and law enforcement responses to issues related to gender, particularly in community settings.
  • Gender-Inclusive Policies:Commissioner Iavro has spearheaded the implementation of employment policies and practices that effectively address gender discrimination, especially in the realms of recruitment, promotion, and mentoring.
  • Fostering Women’s Leadership:His initiatives have paved the way for more women to assume leadership roles within the organization, thereby enhancing women’s representation and influence.

The ACWAP Excellence in Policing Awards statement for 2023 lauds Commissioner Robson’s leadership for significantly expanding policing services to communities across Vanuatu. His dedication to gender equality was prominently displayed during a recent conference organised by the Vanuatu Women Advisory Network, where a civilian employee transitioned to a VMF officer, resulting in improved healthcare services for the community.

In addition to Commissioner Iavro’s well-deserved recognition, the VPF has witnessed previous achievements at the ACWAP Excellence in Policing Awards, where four male and female officers were honored in various categories. This recognition serves as a testament to the VPF’s unwavering commitment to promoting and advancing gender equality.

Commissioner Iavro assumed the role of Police Commissioner in June 2021, becoming the 13th Commissioner since Vanuatu gained its independence in 1980. His appointment spans a five-year term, subject to a performance review after three years, affording the opportunity for contract extension or termination based on performance evaluation.