Crusade for compensation

David Nelson, secretary of the Medically Retired Western Australian Police Officers Assoc. Inc. d423817
David Nelson, secretary of the Medically Retired Western Australian Police Officers Assoc. Inc. d423817

The MRWAPOA was set up by a group of medically retired WA Police officers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The WA Labor Party also recently announced its support for a workers’ compensation scheme at its State conference. WA is the only Australian state that does not offer compensation to officers.

According to WA Police, about 13 police officers were medically retired each year and left without financial support in the past five financial years.

About eight were retired for mental health reasons each year.

MRWAPOA secretary David Nelson said a new compensation scheme would need to be retrospective.

‘You can’t just dump sick police officers into isolation, despair and poverty and not go back to help them,’ he said.

Union senior vice-president Brandon Shortland said that his organisation had prepared a research project into PTSD, which should be finished in November.

He said it would provide recommendations for a fair system that would be put to the State Government and WA Police at its annual conference.

‘With respect, the commissioner of police will not decide what system will fairly and adequately look after our members; that will be done by Government,’ Mr Shortland said.

‘We expect that we will be consulted on any proposals in this area and our members will have a significant role to play in deciding if they are fair, reasonable and acceptable.’

Police Commissioner Karl |O’Callaghan said if a compensation scheme was introduced, extraordinary sick leave entitlements would have to be tightened up.

‘If we are going to move to a workers compensation scheme, it will require the union to agree to sick leave provisions being normalised to that available to other parts of the public sector,’ Mr |O’Callaghan said.

‘It may also require the abandonment of non-work related medical benefits, which no other part of the public sector is entitled to.’

Police are entitled to 168 sick days each year.

Police Minister Liza Harvey said that she would continue to work with Mr O’Callaghan to develop suitable options for discussions with the WA Police Union.

‘The introduction of a workers compensation system to replace existing arrangements for police involves complex industrial and legislative consideration,’ Ms Harvey said.

A WA Police spokeswoman said mental first aid was offered at the academy to all employees.

She said that psychologists were available and officers who attended critical incidents were contacted.

‘Training is provided through the academy to recruits on stress management and responding to critical incidents, which aim to help build resilience and encourage early intervention,’ she said.

– For further information, email, visit website or join|MRWAPOA.