My Sergeant Billy Li, Cultural Advisory Officer

Think policing is all car chases, blaring sirens and handcuffing perps? Think again!

Sergeant Billy Li is a branch manager for PCYC in the Whitsundays. Before he took that role and when we caught up with him he was a Cultural Advisory Officer with the Queensland Police Service (QPS) Cultural Engagement Unit, and he loves the challenges and rewards of his career.

“My role is very unique, it’s very special and it’s very diverse and it’s nothing like any other job in the Queensland Police Service,” Sergeant Li said.

Working in policy and program development, the Cultural Engagement Unit links the QPS with many multicultural and Indigenous bodies in Australia to provide reviews, advice, consultation and education to the QPS and the public.

These include partnerships and discussions with local communities and cultural groups as well as government departments, non-government organisations and other Australian law enforcement agencies.

While his job might seem different to our standard expectations of police work, Sergeant Li still started out as a police recruit and academy student.

The initial recruitment process was very quick. Six months after he lodged the initial application, he joined the QPS at age 24.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the academy life, it was hard work academically and also physically,” he said.

“I particularly enjoyed the driver training and firearm training.”

Surprisingly, for someone whose work relies on effective communication, that particular area was actually the greatest challenge in Sergeant Li’s academy training.

“I guess that formed part of the cultural barrier, being assertive and giving orders to people that you don’t know or are more senior to you,” he said.

Now, Sergeant Li is all about communicating through cultural barriers and building relationships.

His essential work allows the QPS to engage with diverse communities and serve the many people in Queensland.

“Community engagement is a big thing for our office,” he said.

“We also provide operation support, language support and cultural awareness training to our frontline police.”

One of the best things about this job is the diversity of the working day.

“We get to meet new people every day at different functions and events.”

Although the Cultural Engagement Unit is based in Brisbane, Sergeant Li travels all around the state to consult with communities and deliver education and awareness programs.

This has included educating overseas backpackers in Bundaberg about workplace safety and providing drowning-prevention information to Chinese tourists in Cairns.

With a different project or event always on the go, he never runs the risk of falling into a routine.

“We work in partnership with the multicultural communities in Queensland and we also have a really good working relationship with our foreign embassies and consulate officials,” he said.

Sergeant Li even earned international recognition. He was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the Korean National Police Agency for his work on a fraud case involving a Korean national.

On weekends, Sergeant Li still finds time for family and his hobby of dragon boating, a pastime that reflects his commitment to cooperation and hard work, as well as getting him involved with the local community.

“Dragon boating is a great sport,” he said.

“It’s not only about the individual strength – it’s about team work.”

Sergeant Li’s advice to people thinking about a future with the QPS is to take initiative and apply now.

“It’s not just a job. It is a career,” he said.

“It’s a career that is very rewarding and there’s opportunities for you to develop different paths in your career within the Queensland Police Service, and you get to travel across the state doing what you love to do.”

This is Billy’s story. What’s yours?

To find out how you can kick start your career with the QPS click here.

This is Billy’s story, what’s yours?

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