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Victoria Police recruits won't have to pass initial fitness test so female recruit targets can be met

It's a well trodden path for Social Justice Warriors - when your target group doesn't meet the standard, drop the standard!

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Victoria Police recruits will be given more support to pass an initial physical fitness test to get into the force under reforms designed to get more women in the ranks.

The force's approach to the strict pass/fail fitness test will be modified so recruits who fall slightly short of the grade can be accepted as long as they meet other key criteria.

Those recruits will be given extra training so they can pass the fitness test at a later date.

The force is changing its approach after it failed to reach a target of 50 per cent female recruits, despite vowing to tackle a culture of sexism in its ranks. Only 30 per cent of current police recruits are women.

Victoria Police will also revise its recruitment criteria to include an emphasis on skills including empathy, ethical decision-making, communication and interpersonal skills.

The changes are part of a raft of reforms following the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission's third and final review on gender equality, sexual harassment and predatory behaviour in Victoria Police. A 2015 investigation found "everyday sexism" was entrenched in the force.

"At present they are missing out on some really good candidates," said Kristen Hilton, the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner.

The tough fitness course involves a beep test, doing five successive push-up on toes, holding a plank for 60 seconds and a 30-kilogram grip test in each hand.

It also tests recruits' ability to climb over fences, disarm offenders and rescue unconscious victims. Police officers are subject to biannual fitness testing throughout their career.

A police spokeswoman said the force was not changing the requirements of the physical fitness test, "however we are looking at ways to strengthen our support for those who fall short".

"We don’t want any applicants ... to be discouraged if they don’t pass the physical aspect of the recruitment on the first try," the spokeswoman said.

"Instead, we want to ensure they are provided with increased opportunities to develop their strengths in key areas so they have the encouragement and support behind them to hopefully succeed on the next attempt."

The commission's latest review found more than one in four women in Victoria Police have been sexually harassed in the past three years, and only 11 per cent of those women reported the behaviour.

Ms Hilton said that rate was unacceptable, but said there had been improvements in gender equality.

"Victoria Police plays a critical role in responding to gendered violence in the community. On any given day, 40 to 60 per cent of Victoria Police callouts are in response to family violence," Ms Hilton said.

"Addressing gender inequality in its workplaces is not just vital for improving the experience of individual employees, but also for improving the organisation’s ability to serve the Victorian community.

"While there is a long way to go there has been a tremendous investment in improvements. There is also a greater awareness of what sexual harassment and discrimination looks like."


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