As I look back at the history of our Association over the past 99 years, one fact is crystal clear.
Those that came before us fought long and hard for the creation of an organisation to represent NSW police officers, taking on direct opposition from Governments and senior police. It wasn’t a given.
During the 1900s, Members of Parliament including Edmund Walcott Fosbery CMG, an Inspector-General (equivalent to the role of Commissioner) of Police for 33 years, strongly opposed granting rank and file members the basic right to appeal matters of discipline and promotion.
We had a stalwart supporter in the Hon Ted Larkin, a former policeman, who said in 1914, “It is the manifest right of the police to form their association, and the request should be granted.”
Unfortunately, World War I intervened and Larkin, who was a member of the 1st Battalion, tragically died in battle at Gallipoli.
It took many years of hard work, and with the permission of a sympathetic Premier of the day, the Association finally formed in 1920 with the first Association meeting held on 8 September 1920.
Initially, police officers worried that joining the Association would be a black mark against them.
Chief Secretary, (equivalent to the role of Premier) James Dooley directly intervened, reassuring them that joining the Association would not prejudice their position or status as a Police Officer.
Since the earliest times, the Association has pursued issues that affect police officers. Our leaders have come from within, each generation building on the previous one to evolve into the influential organisation we are today.
As a registered trade union, today we have access to the Industrial Relations Commission. The right to Appeal on behalf of our members was one of the primary motivations for the formation of the Association. It was a long fought battle for the Association and its leadership, taking many years before being granted the right to appeal before the Police Appeals Board in 1924, and ultimately access to appeal in the Industrial Relations Commission in 1978. This access finally ensured fairness for our members.
But your Association is so much more. We’re a professional organisation representing professionals....from the Commissioner to our most recent Probationary Constable. We’re the voice that speaks out in defence of our members when no one else will.
So, I urge you do not take the Police Association for granted.
Join in our celebrations throughout the coming year, culminating in a gala dinner on 8 September 2020 as we reflect on what it means to belong to this organisation.
Above all, let’s stay strong as we look towards the future and the inevitable challenges that lie ahead.