Leading the law

On the wall in the office of Luke Cornelius APM (LLB ’99) is a picture showing a dog and a cat sheltering under an umbrella while it rains humans – an interesting juxtaposition – and somehow not what you’d expect in the office of the Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police.

Mr Cornelius, however, is no stereotypical policeman. His unconventional approach to wearing the navy blue uniform stems from a long-held conviction about the importance of police in supporting the community.

Mr Cornelius had several years of drug busts and surveillance operations under his belt by the time he scouted around Adelaide’s law schools as a mature age student, landing on Flinders University.

“I really liked the Flinders program – the class sizes were great and it had a really good balance between written and oral presentations and exams,” Mr Cornelius said.

“In the first lecture for torts and legal method, Professor Elliot Johnson said, always remember you are here for the little person.

“It doesn’t matter what role we have within the organisation, our key job is to look out for the little people.”

After a long and distinguished career in both the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police, Mr Cornelius is now charged with multiple jobs – in particular leading cultural change to make the Force a safe, supportive and respectful workplace for women.

“I have retained a couple of fundamental truths from my legal education at Flinders which have remained guiding principles for my career – the importance of respect for people and also for upholding the rights of all people in the eyes of the law,” Mr Cornelius said.

“Those principles have stood me in good stead during my career and I’m not sure I would have learned them as well anywhere else.”

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