Working together to protect our future

The NTPA Executives intention is that the Southern FO will take on responsibilties for all stations from Elliott south, and I will retain all stations north of there. We will share the assistance that we provide to the Industrial Officer on Industrial, disciplinary and other matters and each will be responsible for housing related matters in our areas. It will be exciting times and whoever the successful applicant is, I welcome them to the fold. Maybe by the time your reading this we will have our new FO in place (and they can write the next article).

I have been very busy over the first half of 2018 and there has been a lot going on, including the development and start of the new Police Auxiliaries performing Liquor Inspector duties (PALIs) (more on that down the page). The Remote and Regional Working Group, the Roster Working Group (part of Project Versa), as well as what seemed like an increasing number of disiplinary and industrial matters. In mid August we held the 2018 NTPA Annual Confrence here in Darwin. I want to thank all Regional Delegates who attended activley representing your members on behalf of your regions. There was certainly some robust discussion, thoughts and ideas generated over the three days.

As we approach the final quarter of the year we are about to start preparing for the next Consent Agreement with negotiations for the 2019 CA due to commence in February. The President and I often joke that 2017 was a blurr and wonder where the year went, thanks to the last CA. 2018 is not looking much different, and I suspect 2019 may well be the same. The fun never ends.

Members may have seen our messaging and branding with the hashtag #NeverWorkAlone. It was a strong theme during this years NTPA Annual onference, has featured in print advertising supporting members and then there are those blue and green stickers that keep popping up everywhere.

Your association is increasingly concerned by the growing incidents of members being left to work one up, alone at remote stations. The challenges of filling bush stations both permanently or with relief members never seems to ease. Some remote stations continue to be closed with staff redirected to other locations for extended periods, and from some individuals managing Remote Stations, there is an expectation for members to be working one up. We know of many instances where members have been left alone one up at remote stations for weeks at a time. When we become aware, we act.

One of the biggest things to come out of the Remote and Regional Working Party is the fact that remote is suffering. Staff shortages, vacancies, ever-increasing expectation that Police will be available to respond to everything 24/7, fatigue management, lack of available relief members etc. the list goes on. Working alone is just a symptom of all of that.

In 2018 working alone is simply not acceptable at a remote station for any period more than a day or two at most, simple. It is dangerous and places our members in unnecessary risk both physically and mentally. Its all very well to say, it will be right, use common sense etc, but we all know that Policing, particularly bush Policing, is a dynamic environment and situations can change quickly.

Maybe it time to start thinking of alternate staffing models, minimum staffing agreements and a commitment from Senior Police that members will #NeverWorkAlone


In August the first squad of Police Auxiliaries employed to perform 'Liquor nspector' duties at bottle shops (referred to as PALIs by Govt and the Department) graduated from a 12-week training course. The course was held in Alice Springs as all these members will be employed in Alice. They are the first of 75 so called PALIs announced by the Government (with little to no consultation with the NTPA I might add).

Let there be no mistake. The role that they are performing is Frontline Policing, clear and simple. They are working one up, out in public in an uncontrolled environment where they are being asked to enforce the law and deal with the result of their enforcement actions. You only have to look at the number of incidents and assaults on our members that have occurred at Bottle Shops, particularly in Alice Springs, in the past few years to know that this is not a front-line support role as the Department would like to call it.

I travelled to Alice and met with these members several times during their training course and again during their first few days on the job to gauge how it was all going, clear up any issues and ensure that they had all the necessary support they needed. The following is in no way a criticism of the PALI members, the members charged with training them, mentoring or supervising them, but, it was so evident from day one that there were many issues. There were not enough radios. tasers or members to supervise them, but worst of all was that no one seemed to have any idea what powers the PALIs had or didnt have. This to me seem to be the most important issue of all. It was pointless them being mentored by experience Constables, if the Constables didnt know the extent of powers afforded to the PALI's.

I welcome our new Police Auxiliary members to the job and to their new role and wish them well in their duties, in what is going to be an extremely challenging time for them. Stay safe. #NeverWorkAlone (yep there it is again).

Finally, I want to offer my personal congratulations to Kylie Anderson for her Life Membership of the NTPA. It was Kylie who early on in my NT Police career, encouraged me to be involved and play an active part in the Association, as a Regional Delegate. Its a well-deserved award.