The art of vigilance
WITH more than 20 years’ experience as a police officer in Victoria, Gaven Wicks has been trained to be ever vigilant and watchful.
But the Victoria Park family man is concerned the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude of the average Aussie could be their undoing, especially now that Australia has been elevated to the ‘high’ level on the National Terrorism Public Alert System.
The 45-year-old former sergeant worked with special units conducting security risk assessments and sweeps of major Sydney landmarks, including the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and provided security advice to the PM and Cabinet for the 2007 APEC summit, said most ordinary people did not know how to recognise or respond to potential terrorist behaviour.
Mr Wicks worked with a Belmont security firm before establishing his own training organisation after he and a colleague, also a former police officer with 30 years’ experience, felt that global terrorism was on the rise. They began writing an awareness program for frontline employees such as receptionists, retailers and security personnel.
That program, which has had input from former federal police officers, defence and UN opera- tives, is now on offer and Mr Wicks said he had been inundated with interest from organisations in WA and the eastern states.
“We are in the very early stages of a new climate that people aren’t really used to yet. They are concerned but not sure what ‘be alert not alarmed’ means,” he said.
“The great thing about Australia is that we haven’t seen the ravages of war on our soil; we’ve been far away from that but it’s starting to creep into our lives.
“Are we overreacting? The US, UK and France used to be like us and we should learn from their experiences. That doesn’t mean locking ourselves in the house but if everyone does their little bit, supports the police, reports suspicious behaviour, it’s better than ignoring what could eventually be important.
“As an ex-police officer you are always aware but it’s more heightened now, especially with a family of my own. I have a particular skill set and experience that is useful in this situation.
“If I can help others help protect their own community and my family when I can’t be there to do it myself by being vigilant, my skills have been put to good use.”