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This month as we look back on the proud history of the Police Association, I’m struck by the foresight and bravery of men like Constable Bert Fortescue and Sergeant Thomas Pauling.
Back in 1920, they took a leap into uncharted territory as the first Secretary and President of the Police Association.
The worth of the organisation built by the founders – and countless Association members over the past 100 years – is evident today. When you look at our industrial entitlements, all of them were fought for and won by the Association.
Nothing was handed to us on a platter. Rather, every item of uniform and equipment, from the Glock pistol to the Taser, from PPE and the thigh holster to the ILAV is the result of our tenacity and determination to improve the working lives of police officers.
In the beginning, not everyone welcomed a Police Association being formed in New South Wales. There was strong opposition by sections of the NSW Parliament and policing initially.
It took the intervention of James Dooley, Chief Secretary (Minister of Police) and permission from the Commissioner, before Police Officers were allowed to have a united voice.
On 8 July 1920, Mr Dooley addressed a mass meeting held in the Redfern Police Depot (premises that are currently occupied by the Mounted Police Unit).
According to newspaper reports of the day, officers from almost every metropolitan station were present.
Mr Dooley assured the men that he had no objections to an association being formed. In fact, he said Police were such an important body that they should have their own representation!
That meeting of police then passed a resolution:
That a NSW Police Association be formed, non-political, and not to be affiliated with any outside body.
Thereafter, the first Association office bearers were elected at a meeting on Wednesday 8 September 1920, including Fortescue as General Secretary and Pauling as the 1st President, the rest is history.
When you look at the conditions and entitlements we have today, the worth of the Association is a testament to the efforts of these sturdy pioneers and those that have followed over the past 100 years.
Ironically, some of the issues we as an Association are dealing with today including staffing, police pay, and promotions would be very familiar to the Association founders.
We are currently working our way through a new police promotions system, a complex and lengthy process that has continued throughout the pandemic.
Once legislation is passed, we can look forward to a fairer and more equitable promotions system.
I would like to acknowledge the extensive work done by the Promotion Review Steering Committee, especially Vice President Kevin Morton and Assistant Secretary Industrial Kirsty Membreno who advocated strongly on behalf of our members.
Some of the additional items we have fought for and won recently include a massive increase of 1500 police officers, Income Protection for members aged over 60, and securing a commitment for mandatory infectious disease testing of offenders.
Importantly, we’re continuing to battle the NSW Govt for a pay rise in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).
On 13 August 2020 in the IRC, we were stunned to learn that the NSWPF actively opposes our claim and any increase being backdated to 1 July 2020.
This was a kick in the guts and has firmed our resolution for the next tranche of IRC hearings which will begin on 6 October 2020. We again call on the Government to come to the table, there is time to resolve this.
On a positive note, we’ve used this time to secure agreement on a range of non-Award conditions.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the PANSW and the NSWPF maintaining the existing Death & Disability Scheme and associated insurance policies, as well as workers compensation exemptions and other items.
This year COVID-19 has prevented us from commemorating solemn events as we would normally do. We saw this on ANZAC Day where traditional dawn services were replaced by online and neighbourhood events.
This month, we have National Police Remembrance Day which is a deeply significant important day on the police calendar. The usual commemorative services have been curtailed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, as 29 September approaches, we’re keen for a meaningful tribute to police officers who have fallen in the line of duty.
We’re currently waiting for the call we’ve made over the past six months for the NSW Government, and the Premier, to colour the sails of the Sydney Opera House blue as a mark of respect from a grateful state, to be responded to.
There are 273 officers named on the NSW Police Wall of Remembrance who are truly deserving of this.
Read the latest headlines and news coverage of Policing issues in the media on the Headlines page.
See PANSW statements on a variety of policing issues issues on the Media Releases Page.