By Jessica Micallef
Sunbury’s Vicki Key has been appointed an officer of the Order of Australia in this year’s Australia Day Honours list.
Ms Key, 64, was recognised for her dedication in the police force and her work in supporting retired police officers.
She said she was both honoured and proud to receive the Order of Australia medal.
“To be receiving it on Australia Day certainly wasn’t something that I was expecting but it is certainly nice to be acknowledged for the work,” she said.
Ms Key joined the police force in the 1980’s, dedicated nearly 24 years of her life to serving
and protecting the community. She said becoming a police officer was always a dream of hers.
“I always wanted to join,” she said. “I was a quarter of an inch too short. Then they abolished the height restrictions so I thought this was my chance.
“I always worked out of the north western suburbs. I worked at Broadmeadows or Fawkner. Coburg was my first police station.”
Throughout her career, Ms Key was a serving officer, constable and senior constable and sergeant before her last role as the acting officer in charge at the Moonee Ponds police station.
Ms Key spent the majority of her career investigating sexual assault against children and adults and physical assault against children.
“I always wanted to be working with people who had a very limited voice back then,” she said.
“Reporting sexual assault was still a very hidden taboo subject, so was family violence.
“I thought this was an area I could do some really good work. My best days were always taking the offender to court and having a win trial.”
Ms Key retired in 2010 but she knew her work wasn’t yet done. In 2012, she founded the Retired Police Peer Support Office Program which assists retired uniformed members who may be experiencing difficulties with their mental heath.
“I became aware that there were a lot of suicides among former police and current police,” Ms Key said.
“I thought I could get a group of former police who have all done their peer support course and see what we could do as former police.
“We ended up training about 62 retired police to be retired peer support officers and that was across the whole state.
“By the end of 2018 we supported in excess of 800 former police.” Ms Key said the support program was the “greatest achievement” of her career and post career.
“It’s now been moved into a not-for-profit charitable status and they’ve appointed a chief executive and a co-ordinator,” she said.
“It’s really grown. It’s a huge achievement.”