2nd of April 2023
It is of serious concern to the community that Victoria Police is apparently having difficulty recruiting sufficient numbers to fill the vacancies created by retirements and other staff exits.
Not only will the community feel the impact of the Police not being available to respond to their needs, but Police will endure substantial frustration not having proper numbers available, with an increased workload falling on those still there. This will substantially accelerate the loss of members through stress-related issues.
We do not need to look too far over the horizon to see a perfect storm brewing into an untenable situation or even a crisis for the Force, and the community, because they are both inextricably linked.
The four significant contributors converging are.
- Stress on Police
There has been, and continues to be, an escalation in Police leaving due to stress-related issues.
- Recruits are difficult to attract.
The Force is having difficulty attracting suitable recruits in the current employment environment.
- Public employee staff cuts
The most recent announcement by the Government to make a substantial cut in Public Service employees, with, at this stage, emergency services, Police, ambulance and Fire services not been quarantined. The impact will be devastating.
- Impact of Migration
And to magnify the impact of these issues, the net migration intake has exploded, with hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving in Victoria.
What can be done? Quite a lot, actually, and putting one’s head in the sand waiting for the inevitable is not one of them. Secondly, VicPol, as tempting as it may be, must not lower its standards but devise creative ways to cover this shortfall. Altering standards is short-sighted and will lead to worse outcomes down the track. Kicking the can down the road is not a good management strategy.
- Stress on Police
In our view, there has been less than appropriate management for many members suffering from stress over an extended period. Management seemingly takes the easy way out and funnels members with stress out of the job rather than the more difficult task of facilitating or working with clinicians to overcome the issue. Management lacks the capacity to be innovative and create pathways for solutions to help relieve the stress on individuals, and that anomaly must be addressed
Many members who have left suffering PTSI have two common threads.
- Police management was a major contributor to the degree of their stress injury, and
- Following close behind were the insurers and either Workover or Gallagher Bassett, contributing to their issues.
Some sufferers seemed to have been more affected by the above two issues than the issues that caused their stress in the first place. If that seems a contradiction, it is, but they are both issues that should be capable of being addressed relatively easily with VicPol management commitment. Somewhere in the order of fifty per cent of the aggravating problems could be reduced substantially, improving the chances of retaining the member as a worthwhile contributor.
We have always believed that expecting a person suffering, either suspected or confirmed PTSI, to negotiate on their own behalf is unconscionable; they are injured. So instead, each member must be appointed a case manager to assist them with making sound decisions. Implementing such a scheme is essential, but the advocate must be given influence within the organisation, or otherwise, they will be ineffective.
A case manager needs the minimum following attributes;
Maturity -intimate knowledge of Police culture -deep understanding of Force policies, procedures and structure – advanced life skills – proven leadership and communication skills.
Former senior Police officers would be ideally suited for this task.
- Recruits difficult to attract.
The current employment environment and the image trashing VicPol has suffered in recent years are forces working against the flow of recruits.
The current marketing campaign’s underlying message is ‘ come play with our toys’.
That approach has been tried before without remarkable success and, on some levels, is insulting to the calibre of recruits VicPol would want to attract.
A campaign ‘’are you good enough’ will pay closer to the psych of the recruits VicPol should favour.
Anecdotal feedback suggests that police veterans’ children, who should be a fertile recruiting ground felt they were discriminated against in the recruiting process.
Whether this is a fair criticism, we do not know, but we do know little effort is made to provide a pathway for this potential market.
Although there are signs of improvement, the treatment of veterans by all levels of VicPol has been very negative and also contributed to this resource not producing the number of recruits it could.
- Public employee staff cuts.
As unpalatable as this is, it will probably only be the Police Association that attacks the Government; VicPol can’t.
However, VicPol can be very smart. These cuts are all about saving money for the Government.
This is work for specialist Actuarial and Financial analytical experts working with creative Police management generally but more specifically in recruiting and staff resorucing.
VicPol, to its credit, started the move towards establishing a viable reserve, now advertising for former Police to return for a specialised task. That will be an economic saving while achieving Force objectives.
While small-scale, it can be built on.
Although marketing this first approach is a bit rough around the edges, arguably insulting applicants before they consider the offer is not a sensible approach. Nevertheless, it is a positive move and should be lauded, not criticised, by a minority of veterans, as is currently the case.
A stumbling block often put forward is that Police veterans are no longer sworn Police.
For a very long time, Police who had retired retained their Certificate of Identity. The privilege of retaining their ID has never been abused by the thousands of Veterans who have kept them, it is a respect thing.
The same would apply if the Police Regulation Act was amended so that Police veterans retained their status as sworn. At the discretion of the Chief Commissioner, who may withdraw the privilege from individuals if circumstances arise.
The judicious use of these Veterans would save money while maintaining and improving the police service. Retired members are often a bit physically frayed through age, but that does not affect their mental acuity; it just means they can’t jump fences chasing crooks anymore, probably the same for many older members still serving.
It is hoped that VicPol is closely looking at the Military Reserve model for inspiration rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.
- Impact of Migration
The number of migrants that will be calling Victoria home over the next little while is bordering on scary, particularly if you are charged with the responsibility of ensuring law and order for this new cohort that will come with its own set of cultural and other values that may not be compatible with Australian values or laws.
Of course, VicPol has been dealing with this issue for many years very successfully, as we are a migrant country and welcome their contribution. But we do not recall a time when so many are likely to arrive with issues that we cannot predict . While many commentators focus on the lack of infrastructure to accommodate the large influx, nobody seems to have applied their minds to the impact on Policing.
From a Policing perspective this influx is a bit like getting kicked when you are already on the ground.
Policing could be overwhelmed, leading to chaos.
The migration issue is a classic political move where one arm of the Government makes a decision to serve its needs, and dealing with the consequences is hived off to another level where the pain is really felt.
What we have set out is the prediction of a perfect storm bearing down on VicPol, the damage that may be caused is perhaps irreversible.
The CAA is alerting the organisation so that planning to deal with this perfect storm to be faced, can be escalated to the highest priority to minimise the inevitable damage.
Can’t help but feel the main reason for this is the image VicPol has given itself in the last 3 or 4 years of being bullies and thugs.
I’ve experienced this directly, and we hate all seen it on the news reports.
When the premier is condoning and perhaps even encouraging VicPol members to attack and bully members of the public…who is going to want to become a copper?
It’s no longer about doing good for the community, it’s about bullying and controlling all of society…not just those that are doing wrong.
I know of two people recently who applied and both were knocked back by VicPol for unknown reasons. In my opinion, both would have made much better coppers than some of the boof heads that wear the blue currently. But perhaps neither were aggressive or malleable enough for those in charge?
Maybe if they did a recruitment drive at one of the halfway houses in St Kilda, they may have more luck getting numbers up?
It is eide held belief that Vic Pol under Shane pattern are just a uniformed branch of the ALP and puppets for Dan Andrews. I for one have lost all redpect for the force after their cowardly attacks on citezens . What dort of person would really eant to be part of these thugs
I can only use myself as an example Ivan. The lack of any care when I was unwell was terrible. I was off work for 10 months before I was contacted. No RTW plan offered ever. When I stated I wanted to return to work I was told there was no positions for me. So I was forced to ‘retire’. As soon as I ‘retired’ I started working straight away and still am working, ironically for a govt department in Investigations! This ex Senior Sergeant wouldn’t go back to the organisation in a pink fit. On the recruitment, who would want to be in policing nowadays, all the stress and poor leadership aside, the new generation want flexibility, work from home options, less hierarchical management, less antiquated promotion processes, and good work life balance. It’s just not an attractive career.
Start looking after your members and showing them support other then looking for brownie point bowing to the squeaky wheel minorities.
The author of this article is right. Significant immigration intake will have significant impact not only on policing, but on all levels of government services. And, of course, on the infrastructure which is inadequate even now. Australia is experiencing rental crisis. I wonder where the thousands of new migrants will live if there is not enough of rental accommodation available for those in need right now. And what about our scarce water resources? And demands on electricity and gas. Those who advocate increase migration levels argue that migrants sill stimulate demand for consumer goods thus contributing to our economy. The problem though is that the bulk of profits do not stay in Australia but are enjoyed off shoe. Mainly in China.
To cope with the pressures of massive immigration, Victoria Police will have to significantly increase the representation of members from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities within its ranks to provide professional response to the new challenges. By no means an easy task.
We know that civil disobedience is a common place in such countries accommodating large influx of migrants like Sweden, Germany and France. I wonder if our politicians are mindful of these issues before deciding on the level immigration intake quotas.
Yes, we are a multicultural society and Australia has benefited enormously from immigration since the end of the Second World War. But we have to ensure that we have a capacity to absorb and successfully resettle unrealistically high number of migrants.
Brink back paid reservists.
The recruiting standards couldn’t get much lower.
The entire leadership of vipol needs replacing with experienced people who have a focus on policing not pleasing the Premier and followiing the political fads of the day.
My son a third generation member of vicpol, senior constable aged 33 has recently resigned, he has a trade (plumber) and most of his tradie mates are making $130k+ a year with little weekend work, that plus the way vicpol behaved in the covid madness has led to a distinctive lack of respect for members. Many in the community who once respected police now look upon them as biased political operatives doing the premiers will. He loved the job but saw no financial or long term future in it.
I really believe a royal commission into vicpol, especially the politically motivated prosecutions (Pell etc) and the brutality of the covid response is needed.
Many policemen must have had moral objections to their militarization during the Covid protests, so they can’t be blamed for having resigned.
Once upon a time i would happily go out of my way to support the police,
but that all changed when i witnessed the atrocities they performed during this so called pandemic. A lot of their deeds were totally unnecessary. I work in the city and witnessed innocent people being fired upon with rubber bullets!!.. wtf, till this day this still haunts myself
and feel sick to the stomach this happened in my once loved state.
Dan Andrews, you may be feeling smug mate but every dog eventually has his day champ!!!
I cant respect the police anymore, I see a paramilitary thugs under the control of the government, all i see are guns battons and phaisers , I never felt this way as a child or young adult, the state has a monopoly on force and violence is my fear
I am in total agree ment with the causes and treatment of members that have been outlined above. I have been involved in so many incidents in my 42 and a half years service. (included being shot at on one ocassion, and being on the wrong end of a shotgun on another) and none of these issues caused me the stresses that eventually cut me down. The lack of recognition for some things I did was the starting point, and criticism from above was the framework. Being pushed out the door as hard as they could topped off. If it wasn’t for the intervention and assistance of Bruce McKenzie at the Police Association, I would still be walking around clueless about everything in the world around me.