New South Wales is the first state to recognise police officers who have taken their own lives due to work related psychological injuries such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on the NSW Police Wall of Remembrance.
Retiring NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione told ABC News that the policy shift was considered at a national level by all state commissioners but it was decided against. Given the decision, Commissioner Scipione decided to use his final months as Commissioner to at least implement the policy change for his own state.
“Those people matter, they are still part of the blue family, the uniform is connected to them and when it’s the right thing to do, you just do it.” – NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione
Ms Deborah Bryant who led the campaign with three other women who were also widows of officers lost to suicide from 1996 to 2013, said while viewing the NSW memorial, “I think that it sends a really important message to the wider police community that these police officers lives really, really mattered and their service is honoured, that’s what we wanted”.
The four women are continuing to campaign to see the same honour bestowed at the National Police Memorial in Canberra.
In the meantime, the tenacity and conviction of former Commissioner Scipione to make the change at state level as his last act as commissioner should be applauded. Recognising the lives of officers who have lost their lives due to sometimes unseen stresses of the job was an important and necessary policy change to show that we truly value and respect the sacrifice they have made in serving and protecting our community.
Queensland, like most other states of Australia, do not presently recognise police lives lost due to work related suicide on the honour roll. We feel that this should change.
A recent Change.org petition has been created to establish a national consensus for the Police Memorial Process to include police officers lost to suicide. We encourage everyone to sign this to show support for the worthy cause.
National Police Remembrance Day is held on September 29 each year to coincide with St Michael’s Day. St Michael is the patron saint of police and the archangel charged to protect and defend people.
Image source: Queensland Police Service, used under fair use provisions
If you or anyone you know needs help:
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace 1800 650 890