MORWELL Police Officer Jayde Van Gelderen brings compassion and strength to a challenging line of policing.
Currently in the role of Compliance Manager for registered sex offenders in the Latrobe Valley, she has been a member of the Sexual Offences Child Sexual Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) for four years.
In recognition of her work, she has been awarded the prestigious Glenn Patton Sexual Offence Practise Award.
The award is part of annual Victoria Family Violence Command Practitioner of the Year Awards, and is named after the late Senior Constable Glenn Patton.
It recognises the dedication, hard work and achievements of Victoria Police employees who have made significant contributions to the organisation’s response to family violence, sexual offences and child abuse.
She was nominated for the award by her manager Senior Sergeant Geoffrey Rumble, who has worked with Snr Const Van Gelderen for 12 months.
“It didn’t take me very long to realise that Jayde has some real special qualities,” Snr Sgt Rumble said.
“The work we do is all victim centric, it’s about taking care of the victims, taking care of complainants, and providing appropriate and proper support for them.
“What we deal with, and Jayde deals with every day … has lifelong implications on the victims, it’s about the ongoing care and support, and that’s where Jayde steps up and really shines.”
Snr Sgt Rumble said Snr Const Van Gelderen has certain attributes that allow her to excel in her position.
“Jayde understands, and gets on well with our partner agencies, she understands what services they can provide and how to access their services… she’s great at linking in her complainants with those services,” he said.
“You’ve got to get compassionate, you’ve got to be able to show empathy to our complainants and our victims… you’ve also got to have strength.”
Snr Sgt Rumble has been in the force for 33 years, and said he was “over the moon” about Snr Const Van Gelderen receiving recognition for her work.
“I was incredibly proud of Jayde, and her being recognised for the work she’s done … and so rapt for the work that our office does here in Morwell, and the work that we’re trying to do in this sex offence space in the community.”
“It’s also a reflection of the work within Eastern Division Five as well and the work that the organisation is doing here.”
The idea to nominate Snr Const Van Gelderen came after she worked on a particularly challenging investigation.
“In particular Jayde did one really big investigation, this investigation involved an incredible
amount of technical services and assistance from a forensic perspective,” Snr Sgt Rumble said.
“Jayde had to organise and source these services for this particular investigation, which was extremely complex … and the results that Jayde got from using those services was a big factor in eventually having a successful outcome in court for this particular person.”
Another notable achievement of Snr Const Van Gelderen’s is the production of a best practice document, which has been distributed to frontline police in the area to assist in promoting consistent responses when receiving information about sexual assault.
Snr Const Van Gelderen was also commended for her work within the community, primarily in education of school aged children.
“Social media is a big player in a lot of the work we do with kids,” Snr Sgt Rumble said.
Much of the work Snr Const Van Gelderen does outside of the office is focused on educating children around issues such as consent, grooming, social media and online bullying, and is in collaboration with the Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault.
She is passionate about her work in education, and said reporting sexual abuse is becoming less stigmatised, with recent developments such as the #MeToo movement.
“Reporting is becoming less frowned upon, and people are feeling more confident to come forward,” Snr Const Van Gelderen explained.
Joining the police force was always an ambition for Snr Const Van Gelderen, however she did not anticipate working in the SOCIT.
“My grandfather, who has recently passed, was a member, so it’s sort of a family business,” she said. Working in this line of policing was something that came about organically for Snr Const Van Gelderen.
“I just fell into it, I didn’t join the police force with the intention of going to the SOCIT or going to the CI, I just wanted to join,” she said.
“I got the opportunity to start at the SOCIT about four years ago and I loved it, it was completely different to what I thought it would be. I feel at that office you tend to help people more and you’re more involved, it’s more victim centric.”
Snr Const Van Gelderen grew up in the Latrobe Valley and has been in the force for nine years, she has spent most of her time at Morwell Police Station. Her role in the SOCIT does come with challenges, she said.
“It’s a really difficult theme of crime to work with, because what we deal with is the most awful thing that can happen to somebody, and to leave that at work and not take it home with you can be a challenge,” she said.
“You have to work within the confines of the law, and sometimes you want to go above and beyond to help these people as a person.”
When asked about her future moving forward, Snr Const Van Gelderen said she is content with her current position.
“It really like the work that I do, and Geoff is a great boss, and the team that we’ve got is a great team to work with, so I’m really happy and comfortable with where I am at the moment,” she said.