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PSO Backgrounds - The Protectors

Tuesday, 15 May 2018 09:13

You’re more suited than you might think for a career in Victoria Police. See how the former careers of four Protective Services Officers help them on the platform.

PSO Melissa Milne

With a background in retail, PSO Melissa Milne felt she was well-prepared for the job of a PSO.

Now more than six months in and working in and around the Flemington area, she sees the advantages of good communication skills daily.

“I’ll just talk to anyone, while they’re waiting for the train or waiting to get picked up,” she said.

“Some people wonder why we’re talking to them, and I’ll explain we’re just wanting to make sure you’re alright.

“When people get off the train, and if there are people left behind, we chat to them and wait with them. You get a lot of people who find it comforting to see us there.

“Recently an elderly woman said to me ‘my heart feels better knowing you’re here’. It’s nice hearing that.”

The railway platforms are a world away from the aisles of Aldi, but PSO Milne said they’re not so different.

She said working in a team environment, having a common goal with colleagues, people skills and problem solving skills were important for both jobs.

“Everyone is different, but you just need to be friendly and professional,” she said.

“Sometimes you get an angry customer and you learn to not take it personally. I try to empathise and show I understand why they feel that way and explain I’m doing a job.”

Jiu-Jitsu,which she’s been doing since she was 10, also helps.

“As a PSO you need to be fit and on your feet, wearing a vest and sometimes running after people.”

PSO Louis Bravos

PSO Louis Bravos has gone from working on smart phone games to a platform of another kind.

The father of two from Perth has a passion for language after spending three years in Japan teaching English to young people aged five to 15, before translating gaming apps.

“I translated instructions and in-game text from Japanese to English,” he said.

“I’m not really a gamer. It required a lot of research and I didn’t know much about gaming.”

Instead, he decided to swipe right to a career as a PSO, working at railway stations in the central Melbourne and Richmond area.

He clicks with the role and has put his language skills to the test a few times helping tourists find their way around Melbourne and resolving situations involving people who have English as a second language.

“I’ve started studying a few languages so I know a little French, Swedish, Romanian and Spanish,” he said.

“I want to learn Mandarin or another language like that, which I think will help me in this job.

“My favourite part is talking to people and being there, communicating.”

PSO Bravos said another advantage of the job was the work/life balance, which means he can also study for his PhD in Translation, something he calls a “hobby”, in his spare time.

“I’ve got a book that I’m translating into English. It’s written by a famous Japanese author, it’s very well-known but isn’t available in English.”

PSO Pina Ciarma

The lessons PSO Pina Ciarma learnt during 20 years as a teacher’s assistant for children with special needs are now educating many others.

Only days into the PSO role she helped calm down a man experiencing a mental health episode. The man was at Melbourne’s Southern Cross Railway Station, pacing around, clearly agitated and told PSO Ciarma he hadn’t taken his medication.

She stayed by his side, speaking to him calmly about his love of poetry and books until an ambulance arrived.

Had her techniques for calming the man down not been used, the result may have been vastly different.

“I felt it was time for me to bring my skills into the community and thought a good way to do that was through Victoria Police,” she said.

“In my teaching job you needed tolerance and patience. We had challenging behaviour, and had to know how to deal with students with those behaviours.

“Using a calm voice, getting them to focus on what they’re doing and having good communication skills are really important.”

These skills are just as important for the officers ensuring the safety of commuters and PSO Ciarma is finding her skills translate well.

“I like the challenge and meeting and getting to know the locals,” she said.

“It’s really nice when people get off the train and I’ve never met them before and they come and say ‘you’re doing a really good job’.

“I’m really pleased I made the move into the right position.”

PSO David Callow

Coming off the train after a long day in the office, one commuter was especially grateful to PSO David Callow.

It may seem like a small gesture, but to the commuter who jumped into her car on a cold night to find the battery was flat, it was a godsend.

After a friend was unsuccessful in jump starting her car, PSO Callow stepped in and she was on her way, thankful for the assistance at the quiet station in Footscray.

PSO Callow said it was moments like these he enjoyed most.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the job is just talking to people and getting paid to do that is unreal,” he said.

While he always wanted to work in policing, PSO Callow spent 25 years as an aircraft engineer and team leader before he spread his wings and became a PSO almost a year ago.

“I worked out of Avalon, fixing 747 aircraft,” he said.

“I ran a crew of 13 to 14 mechanics and was lead mechanic.

“It was a large workforce and that’s where a lot of my skills - dealing with people and conflict resolution – come from.”

His first week as a PSO saw him on a different runway.

“My first arrest was at Flinders Street Station. A guy followed a tourist up the escalators, trying to steal from her handbag,” PSO Callow said.

“She came up to us and we ran and got the guy trying to jump over the Myki barriers.

“That’s the very small percentage of the community we deal with.

“Our primary role is making commuters feel safe and I get great satisfaction in knowing we are achieving that.”

You’re more suited than you might think for a career with Victoria Police. Apply now at policecareer.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 11 February 2019