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BY Jessica Cuthbert 
 
Graduation day at the WA Police Academy is a memorable day for recruits. 
 
After months of training, they stand in front of honourable guests, friends and family and start their careers in the WA Police Force. 
 
The Green Squad 4/2019 and Silver Squad 5/2019 Graduation this month was a special event for two people in particular; husband and wife Maria and Cornelius Wepener. 
 
Maria said her decision to apply for the WA Police Force stemmed from wanting to be more involved in the community. 
 
“At first I started volunteering with St John Ambulance, then I joined the Department of Corrections as a prison officer,” she said.
 
“Cornelius had previously applied for the WA Police Force and made it through to the interview stage but was unsuccessful. When his 18-month wait was over and he was able to reapply, I applied with him.” 
 
Maria said her inspiration to apply was her husband’s dedication. 
 
“He worked so hard to prepare for his application. Going through the journey before and during his previous application made me realise how much I wanted to do it also.” 
 
For Cornelius, he had always wanted to be a police officer and to positively engage in the community and make a difference.  
 
He will join his older brother Johannes, who is also serving on the WA Police Force. 
 
The couple, originally from South Africa, came to Australia in 2013 and have backgrounds in the mining industry and Department of Corrections.
 
Describing the experience with her husband at the Academy as phenomenal, Maria said she was proud of both their efforts. 
 
“We have always been each other’s rock and very supportive of each other. It has been a very challenging course, both mentally and physically and being able to experience this together is very special and memorable,” she said. 
 
Perhaps even more proud of their efforts are the Wepener’s children. 
 
“Our kids and family are immensely proud of us. Our children have been a part of this journey and have given us so much strength and determination, knowing how proud they are of us,” Maria said. 
 
“My seven year-old has said she would like to follow in our footsteps and also be a police officer when she is grown up and our 11 year-old is incredibly proud too.” 
 
Cornelius said he would love to eventually serve in the country as well as work with the youth. 
 
“I am sure that after general duties I will have a clearer indication of where I want to go. The opportunities within WAPOL are diverse and great,” he said. 
 
As for Maria, she would also love to work in the country and in family violence.
 
“Having worked in the prison and seeing the impact of crime and incarceration on families and children I would like to get involved in these areas,” she said. 
 
Her message to other women, in particular mothers, who are interested in applying for the WA Police Force is to never give up. 
 
“Being a mum, wife and almost 40 years-old has sometimes been a struggle, but if it is something you want, go for it wholeheartedly and give it a go,” she encouraged. 
 
“It is challenging and you will learn so much about yourself.  It is worth every bit of sweat and tears.” 
 
The couple both said the camaraderie of the Blue Family is phenomenal, adding they had become close to their squad mates.  
 
Mr and Mrs Wepener are looking forward to their careers with WA Police Force. 
 
 
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