Second Life publicizes din of inequity

Tateru Nino
T. Nino|09.25.08

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Second Life publicizes din of inequity

Week after week, year after year, Australia's police-men and -women put their lives on the line for us. Even when we're ungrateful and unpleasant about it. They see the best and the worst of us, and they keep on going. The Western Australia police force have a recruiting center newly established in the virtual environment Second Life -- and there's some interesting stories being told there.

You see, there's a peculiar issue with the police force in Western Australia which has long been under the radar for local print-media. It took Second Life and the Metaverse Journal's Feldspar Epstein to bring it to light, and now the Western Australian print-media is buzzing with it.

Are you a part of the most widely-known collaborative virtual environment or keeping a close eye on it? Massively's Second Life coverage keeps you in the loop.

At a cost of approximately $23,000 AUD, the WA Police recruiting pavilion in Second Life seems to be quite well thought out. It is attractive, takes avatar and third-person camera mechanics into account. It is also regularly staffed by a police officer (avatar name: Trudi Karu) during WA business hours, and seeks to attract people into the staff-starved Western Australia police force.

Unfortunately, we have had no success in communicating with Trudi, who remained unresponsive throughout our visit, but there is a highly responsive presence at the site. The RMU WA POL. That's the Retired Medically Unfit WA Police Officers. They have a rotating presence at the recruiting site and are very keen and able to discuss another side to this story. Far from being sign-waving protesters or picketers, they're very human, very dedicated and articulate ex-police officers with a story to tell.

Due to a quirk in regional legislation, there is no requirement that officers who become medically unfit in the line of duty should receive any compensation from the force for their disability. There is no legislation preventing such benefits being paid, so it is largely a matter of choice on the part of the force.

Some receive their medals in the post, and a brusque telephone call telling them that they will not be employed the following day. These disabled veterans are more than willing to tell you their stories.

While the RMU WA POL has used online facilities to organize previously, the matter had not received much broad attention until Second Life came into the picture. Epstein's piece on the Metaverse Journal last week attracted quite a bit of attention among the WA press, and the stories of the RMU officers are coming increasingly to public attention.

Listening to an uncompensated veteran tell his story and answer questions has more power to move you to action than a hundred or a thousand people marching down a city street waving signs, banners and placards.

Second Life is no Web-site, or forum, or blog where your community largely consists of the already-interested. It is a space, where you can meet people, hear their stories, and make contact. It's word-of-mouth, amplified exponentially, and wherever you place virtual environments on the hype-cycle, the fact remains that everyone is watching.

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