Secretary's Report

Critical care: The need to be brave

#Respect the badge

At an early morning breakfast in Melbourne recently I was lucky to share a room with many current and former members, who have been involved in many significant critical incidents which represent the difficult and dangerous work performed by police and PSOs.

Seated on each table were members with a range of very personal policing stories, each different in circumstance but similar in personal impact and legacy. Incidents that place our members in situations of extreme risk are life-changing events. That was clear.

Few jobs test people the way that a career in policing does. We train young men and women to run into danger when instinctively they should be running away.

Despite all of our training, planning and preparation, we often rely on the quick-thinking, fortitude and character of our members to succeed in situations where the odds are stacked against them.

It is actually quite humbling to stand in front of a room of people you know have done such amazing work for the community and to offer support, gratitude and understanding. Hearing their stories crystallised the need for all of us to be unashamed in our support of Police and PSOs when they have stood in harm’s way in the protection  of others.

It’s something we must be effusive in, and we were recently following a critical incident in Barnawartha, in northern Victoria, when our members were threatened by dangerous armed men who posed a significant safety risk to the community. I visited those members after the incident to pass on in person the thanks that many people had, but too few deliver.

It is one of many examples of incidents that unfold with little or no warning each day and night in Victoria. 

It reinforces the unpredictable nature of what we do and proves that while a shift or a call out can start out as routine, it can just as quickly descend into a fight for your life.

Few jobs test people the way that a career in policing does. We train young men and women to run into danger when instinctively they should be running away.

This is the reality for our 17,000-plus members that carry a ‘Freddie’ in their pocket and the burden of the risk and responsibility that it places on  their shoulders.

#Respect the badge. 

Spent Convictions scheme and Mental Health - TPAV advocacy at the highest levels

When members think about their membership, they might not always consider the efforts that The Association regularly goes to, to positively influence law and order issues on your behalf. It would be easy for TPAV to throw barbs from the cheap seats but our approach increasingly these days is to set a positive agenda on behalf of our members that promotes the improvement of policing and justice outcomes.

In the past two months The Association provided the Royal Commission into Mental Health and a Parliamentary Inquiry into Spent Convictions its submissions, effectively adding your voice on these important issues.

Our position on mental health is summarised in this edition of The Journal. In it, we articulate your role in crisis response, the impact that your role in policing has on your own mental health and our call for improvements in the system to better support you. Our advice to the Government regarding a potential spent convictions scheme for Victoria made clear that despite the presence of similar schemes interstate, in many cases the need remains for careful consideration to be given to the removal of convictions from a person’s criminal history. It’s our view that many serious convictions ought never be removed, regardless of the period that has elapsed since the offending occurred.

The vulnerable in our community rely on our ability to provide police checks that inform proper risk assessment in many industries like aged care and those where people work with children. Whatever the system proposed, it must never abandon the interests of these people in favor of those convicted of criminal offences.

EBA2019 Negotiations well underway

Since we last spoke to members in The Journal, Enterprise Bargaining negotiations have commenced with the long and meticulous process of developing a new agreement for our members now underway. Each and every clause of the agreement will be reviewed during this process.

The process of negotiating a new agreement follows the service of an Association log of claims on the employer that seeks a pay rise of 4 percent per annum and numerous improvements to terms and conditions of employment for Police and PSOs.

Victoria Police has also since served its log of claims on our members, opening the formal process of bargaining. As we advised members at the time of its service, the starting position articulated by your employer in this document does not represent an acceptable offer for our members. 

By Wayne Gatt