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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three SI Police Officers leave for Australia to lead the way in cultural training for PPF

by Qila Tuhanuku

Three Solomon Islands police officers are heading to Australia to help train new members of RAMSI’s Participating Police Force (PPF).

Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF) officers, Inspector Juanita Matanga, Constable MacArthur Pania and Constable Oliver Buira left for Australia yesterday after being invited by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to work with Australian police trainers at the International Deployment Group (IDG).

The IDG is the arm of the AFP which prepares Australian and Pacific Island police for deployments to countries all around the world, including the Solomon Islands.

PPF Commander Denis McDermott said on Monday that the importance of properly training police deploying to Solomon Islands in local culture, customs and practice was well recognised.

“One of the smartest ways to this is to utilise the wealth of knowledge and expertise within the SIPF,” Mr McDermott said.

SIPF officers have been assisting with the training of IDG deployments for the past two years he said.

“Our training in culture, custom and practice has taken a direction where the theory is reinforced by good practical exercises which are supervised by Solomon Islands Police.”

“We have found it very effective way of giving our people a good grounding in Solomon Islands culture before they arrive here,” Mr McDermott said.

The SIPF members who departed today are very experienced officers. Inspector Matanga currently works in Strategic Planning and Policy, Constable Pania in the Criminal Investigation Division and Constable Buira in National Investigations.

They will be assisting the IDG trainers with all activities related to the pre-deployment course but their main focus will be on formal and informal presentations on Solomon Islands culture.

These presentations will range from pidgin language training through to explaining such issues as the importance of the wantok system and its impact on policing practices in Solomon Islands.

All three officers will be staying at the AFP’s International Training Complex which was built in 2005 to cater specifically for the training needs of officers deploying overseas. The Training Complex was designed to look similar to a village in the Solomon Islands. This helps to train the officers in an environment similar to what they might encounter once they join the PPF.

In the past SIPF officers have also acted as Solomon Islanders during role-playing scenario based activities. These activities are designed to give Australian police a chance to practice their pidgin and social skills with Solomon Islanders.

Many of the Australian trainees in the past have said that this was one of the best experiences during the course.

“Conducting the training in the purpose built Solomon islands ‘village’ adds realism to the scenarios faced by the trainees.” Mr McDermott said.

The SIPF officers also get a chance to participate in a number of training activities such as four wheel drive courses, first aid training, navigational skills and a number of team building exercises. This course is the tenth to be held this year.

Mr McDermott said negotiations were ongoing to allow this initiative to continue.

The three officers who departed yesterday said they were very much looking forward to the chance to work with their Australian counterparts at the IDG. They will be in Canberra for four and a half weeks until October 20.

Source: RAMSI

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