2020 Policing a pandemic

During the opening phases of COVID-19, the NSW Government turned to our members to police restrictions that have, as stated by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, contributed to avoiding, at minimum, over 700 deaths.

Whilst it was obvious to the Association that public safety was paramount, many of our members were thrust into roles for which they weren’t, at the outset, properly equipped.

Association organisers were on call at all hours of the day and night, prioritising work health and safety to achieve the necessary standards. They visited the quarantine hotels to ensure members were provided with proper PPE, suitable meals, and had access to priority COVID-19 tests if needed.

We resolved a range of issues relating to RBT SOPs, prisoner handling and rosters.

On the industrial front, the Association sought and obtained paid accommodation for officers required to self-isolate and who choose to do so away from their family members.

Our crisis communications was strategically targeted to ensure accuracy and relevance.

At its peak, our Information Organising Centre received hundreds of phone calls, a large stream of email inquiries and dealt with almost 200 individual requests in a single week. 

We acknowledge the great work our members are doing throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Whether on deployment to the NSW-Victoria border, in quarantine hotels or carrying out their regular duties, they do so with diligence and professionalism.

Being on the frontline of a deadly pandemic has exposed them to extra work and extra risks including potentially being infected by individuals coughing at or spitting on them.

We lobbied the Police Minister for a specific COVID-related penalty after a spike in incidents of deliberate spitting and coughing. On 9 April 2020, Association President Tony King was pleased to stand beside NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard as he announced a hefty $5,000 fine to stamp out this reprehensible behaviour.