Supporting those who serve
I spent most of my career as a serving police officer and for my entire life I have been part of the NSW Police Force family.
My father served 33 years as an officer, while I left the job after 22 years of dedicated service. Policing is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Police are often expected to be the pillars of strength in situations when those around them are in their darkest hours.
I am proud of my service in the force, but there is no doubt I still carry the scars of those years with me today.
Mental health issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety account for 90% of the injuries suffered by police. They are all conditions that become debilitating and far too often lead to tragic circumstances. As a society we have been battling, and continue to battle, the stigma associated with mental illness.
My family knows all too well the trauma and stress involved in frontline policing. It is their support that has guided me during my darkest hours as I danced with shadows. That is why, when I was sworn in as the Minister for Police, providing more support to injured officers and their loved ones was something I wanted to do as a priority.
Last week I had the privilege of announcing $2 million for a joint initiative with NSW Police Legacy. The BACKUP for Life program will support injured officers and their families so those who leave the force remain connected to the friendships, the camaraderie and the support of the greatest police force in the world.
There has been evolutionary change in the support offered to police officers dealing with mental health issues. My father, too, was a police officer and in his era there was no support whatsoever - officers and their families had to deal with these issues alone. In my time as a police officer there was emerging recognition. While the situation has continued to improve, we still need much more understanding and more support for police who are now facing difficult journeys.
The men and women of the NSW Police Force give so much to their communities and we owe it to them to ensure they forever remain part of the police family. It’s the least we can do.