Working together to protect our future

On Thursday the 29th of July and on behalf of the NTPA, I was given the honour to attend the funeral service of former Constable Robert Robbie Charles Willetts, registered number 1898, aged 57.

A humble and quietly spoken man and a well-respected member of the policing family. On behalf of Fay and Robbies family and friends I would like to pass on their most sincere appreciation and sense of pride they felt that Commissioner Jamie Chalker APM had taken the time to travel to Mount Isa and deliver on behalf of Robbies police family a very emotional eulogy paying the utmost respect and homage to his friend and work colleague.

Thank you also to Ray Musgrave and partner Katherine Hampton for accompanying me on the long drive to and from Mt Isa and also Robbies squad mate Acting Assistant Commissioner Travis Wurst, former OIC Batchelor and friend, Supt James Alan OBrien and Supt Mark Grieve. I will never forget how Mount Isa Police controlled an unusually long slow-moving motorcade to the Mount Isa Cemetery where a riderless horse silently guided the procession on foot to Robbies final resting place. RIP.

When you consider the concerning resignation and retirement numbers for the March quarter of 23 and June quarter of 54 and the yet to be released number for the September quarter and then factor in, Covid duties, leave, medical inability, part time, restricted duties, suspension, or those members dismissed from the Force, you would be excused for wondering who is left holding our front line. Across the Territory we are losing some of our best people, hundreds of years of combined experience and knowledge gone. Retention strategies appear not to focus on holding onto experience but on ramping up recruitment. Thank you to the willing, experienced, and dependable few who constantly put their hands up to fill a hole in a roster and are heavily relied upon to mentor and keep safe our many new graduates from the Police College. Every day I speak with our members and often I will have informal chats with those members leaving us. Reasons for leaving did not include dissatisfaction with our pay and conditions, it seems to stem to a lack of empathy, a lack of support, a lack of confidence and a lack of appreciation. Recently I asked two of our members who appeared to be struggling why they keep putting their hand up for overtime. They advised that it was not a matter of money but more an obligation to ensure there were enough vans on the road to keep their mates safe. When the expectation of duty above self was first brandished around the workplace it felt a general lack of respect for our members time off, and a failure to recognise or take into consideration that members have lives and responsibilities outside of work.

Constantly under extreme pressure to get things done, get it done quickly and without mistake. Then, when some of our members fall over, there is a sense of being pounced upon, with little empathy.

It is my view that natural justice or procedural fairness comprises three components: the opportunity to be heard; there must be no bias; and the decision must have some basis in fact or reasoning. Essentially, be it internal or criminal, it requires that a person receive a fair and unbiased hearing before a decision is made that will negatively affect them.

In Alice Springs when it comes to alleged serious breaches of discipline or criminal charges, I am often the first port of contact by the delegated officer and am often advised in advance prior to the service of any documentation or in recent matters immediately at time of arrest. I am often well positioned and able to pre warn our legal officer of things likely to come and more importantly be there on the ground to provide immediate member support and advice during this stressful process. This quarter the NTPA have assisted copious members subject to Part IV action to say the least it has been an extraordinarily hectic and busy time for all NTPA Staff especially for our legal officer.

Congratulations to Police, Fire and Emergency Service Graduation Class of 2021, Cadet Squad 9 who marched out at the Alice Springs Desert Park on the 24th of June. It was a very proud moment for Senior Constable 1st Class Wade Pahi as his son, PFES Cadet Jack Pahi, who was awarded The Excellence in Leadership Trophy. The Trophy, which is presented to the Cadet who consistently displays leadership and guidance within the squad. On behalf of the graduating class, Jack was selected to give the final farewell speech. Awesome job Jack and to the rest of the Cadets.