Ballarat's top cop has stressed the importance of Tuesday's Police Remembrance Day for reflecting on all members of the police community no longer with us.
Superintendent Jenny Wilson spoke openly about how the occasion gives police an opportunity to stop and reflect on members of the wider police community that not only died within the line of duty, but also due to reasons outside the profession.
"I think it's a very important day for every officer because it is a time for us to stop and reflect," she said.
"This job is one where we are constantly moving forward, so to have today for reflection is crucially important. It's a time to think about not only police members, but protective services officers, custody officers and all of our employees over the last 12 months and historically."
Superintendent Wilson spoke strongly about not only those police members lost in the line of duty, but those who have died as a result of mental health impacts caused by the sometimes significant trauma experienced on the job.
It's important to also reflect about the evident mental health impacts of this job for our employees.Ballarat Police Superintendent Jenny Wilson.
"Whilst we honour the ones that we know of that have died while doing their day-to-day job since 1853, what we don't know are all the names that have suffered mental health injuries as a result of this job and will have no doubt committed suicide as a result of the trauma that they've been exposed to during their service. We need to remember those people."
A clear example of the sort of traumatic events was on full display on Tuesday morning, where police attended a fatality in Burrumbeet after a truck collided with a car.
On Tuesday, a key focus was put on the four police members, Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King, Constable Josh Prestney and Constable Glen Humphris, who were killed in a vehicle collision in Kew earlier in the year.
When looking at how the incident impacted her and her staff, Superintendent Wilson said she believed the deaths opened the eyes of lots of members to how things can change so quickly within the job.
"Obviously this year's events act as a stark reminder to the community that while this is a safe job in my opinion, ultimately there are inherent risks with what we do," she added.
"In relation with the four members that were killed, they represented a whole range of experience levels... the impact that has on us as an organisation, it makes us all reflect on our own safety and our own mortality. It can be particularly challenging for some of our younger members, it makes what we do within the community very real."
She continued by speaking about the sense of 'this could happen to me' that surrounds the entire police community when something like April's tragedy happens.
"We have all done the roles that those members were doing at that time of day... it's impossible to explain why that happened to them, it could have been myself or any of my 320 staff," she said.
"Like any group of people that share unique experiences, we are a close-knit group, we care about each other, so this experience has been terrible. To lose four members at once has such a profound effect."
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au
- Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467
- Mensline: 1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au
- Survivors of Suicide: 0449 913 535
- Relationships Australia: 1800 050 321
- headspace Ballarat (for 12-25s and parent support): 5304 4777
- Soldier On: 1300 620 380
- Ballarat Community Health: 5338 4500
- QLife: 1800 184 527 (Support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people)
- Family violence: 1800 RESPECTVeterans support: If you or someone you know needs support call Open Arms on 1800 011 046 - 24 hours a day, seven days a week or visit www.openarms.gov.au
- For Aboriginal crisis support: Yarning SafeNStrong, 1800 959 563 (noon to 10pm)
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