By Russell Cooper, Rotary North Balwyn

The concept of Rotary/Police Mentoring was initiated fifteen years ago by Rotary Central Melbourne, and is one of the longest running Victorian Police leadership programs. Whilst the program involves a range of training and development aspects for police, one important piece is assisting them to develop skills in working with community groups, particularly volunteers.  Through pairing a Rotary club member appropriately experienced in senior leadership with a Police Officer of at least Senior Sergeant rank, they work together on a project of benefit to the local community over a twelve-month period.

Whilst COVID meant suspending projects commenced in late 2019, many have now been reactivated. During the twelve-month project period, the Police Officer will attend a number of Rotary meetings to update members on the project and its progress.

An example of one project being run by North Balwyn Rotary involves Acting Inspector Ashley Wigg of Victoria Police as mentee, and club member, Russell Cooper, a retired Water Authority CEO, as mentor. The project chosen by Inspector Wigg focuses on reducing road traffic injuries at Greythorn Strip Shopping Precinct.

At all shopping centres there are interactions between pedestrians and cars traversing the main thoroughfare; cars moving into and out of parking bays; and, cars travelling along the main road. Greythorn shopping centre is, however, unique within Boroondara. It has two lanes of traffic flow in both directions along Doncaster Road; cars are parked diagonally to the curb; cars are reversed from parks directly into the inside lane of traffic and often the drivers do not see approaching vehicles in this inside lane; the speed limit in this shopping centre is 60km/hr and is often exceeded; and, drivers sometimes illegally cross over the solid centre line to take an empty park on the opposite side of the road. Anecdotal evidence suggests these are the factors that contribute to periodic collisions and near misses, involving both vehicles and pedestrians.

North Balwyn Rotary’s project will continue to include the collection of data on collision history, the number of near misses, and overall safety concerns. Each of these risk factors are assessed and analysed with an “options paper” drafted and presented to VicRoads, Boroondara Council and Victoria Police providing suggestions on possible actions to reduce the risk of collisions and injuries within the shopping precinct.

If your club would like to be involved in a Police mentoring project, contact: Francesco Fidele on 0400 331 010 e: or go to