The art of vig­i­lance


Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Front Page - Michele Nu­gent

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.”

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