Christine Nixon, the former chief commissioner of Victoria Police, has called for gender quotas to be set in order to recruit more women to the force and change its culture.
Ms Nixon is the only woman to ever be appointed to the role of police commissioner in any state in Australia — a job she held in Victoria from 2001 until 2009.
She told Lateline the rate at which women were joining the force had slowed down and female officers were still seen as being on the fringe.
“I joined in 1972 and by about 1992 there were 11 per cent [of women] and by about 2006 we’d got up to 23 per cent,” she said.
“By 2016 we’ve got to 25 per cent so I think it’s maybe a lack of focus, a whole series of things I think that the commissioners need to take into account to improve the rate and make policing more attractive to women.
“I think once you get that kind of number of women in policing you can bring out a real change in the culture.”
When Ms Nixon was commissioner she tried to introduce a quota but was taken to court by the Police Association of Victoria and lost under Discrimination Law.
“But I said to myself, ‘I don’t really care. We’re going to do it. We’re going to attract women and do as much as we possibly can’,” she said.
A report into the Australian Federal Police in August found 46 per cent of female workers and 20 per cent of male workers had been sexually harassed.
Ms Nixon said she was shocked by the figures.
“What bothers me, when you have that kind of harassment, is what are they doing to the citizens?” she asked.
Ms Nixon said addressing gender and diversity issues would help stamp out corruption and better reflect the community.
She will address the issue in a keynote speech at the Queensland University of Technology on Friday.