We all have the greatest respect for our hard-working police officers.
But did you know that in Western Australia, medically retired officers with PTSD cannot access workers’ compensation or the disability pension?
If that makes you angry, you’re not alone.
A former WA police officer has penned a heartfelt letter to the Queen, sharing her harrowing experience.
Wendy Kennedy was heavily pregnant when she was violently attacked by a man while on the line of duty, but didn’t tell her superiors because she felt pressure to appear “strong and capable”.
Her letter to the Queen, published in WA today, she reveals she could no longer stand the pressure or function as a police officer.
“I am sincerely hoping you get to read this letter as its contents effects both myself and hundreds of Western Australian Police Officers that have taken the oath to swear to serve you, the Queen,” she writes.
“I am sitting here with my psychologist of five years to help me write this letter. I am a medically retired former Western Australian Police Officer whom at the age of 20 decided to follow my fathers footsteps (now deceased) and join the WA Police force (WAPF).
“I joined the WAPF in March 1988 and served for 15 years. During this service my life was put in mortal danger on numerous occasions.
“I witnessed absolute devastation and human tragedy, and at times this occurred on a daily basis. I was faced with death, trauma, violence, life threatening situations. As a female Police Officer, I had to remain strong, otherwise I would be looked upon as weak.
“To this day I still struggle to speak about these events as it causes me too much anxiety and I become overwhelmed with emotion.”
“The stress and trauma of the job got the better of me. The fear and anxiety became overwhelming; I was fearful of people and life in general. I became fearful about my job.”
Ms Kennedy’s story is even more heartbreaking, with depression and PTSD sending her life into a downward spiral.
She reveals she was feeling suicidal, her marriage brokedown, she lost her home and the pressure of caring for four young children left her in hospital.
It’s not clear if the Queen has received or read Ms Kennedy’s letter, but it appears other people are listening.
WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan has spoken out on radio, starting he was a long-time advocate for workers’ compensation for WA police.
“I think one of the reasons it needs to happen is because there has been an inconsistent approach to officer who have to leave the organisation getting some sort of compensation for their injury, whether that’s a physical injury or that’s a PTSD related injury,” he told Radio 6PR.
“And I guess we’ve some a number of ex-gratia payments for the more high profile cases, but of course there’s lots of other officers who get an injury of get PTSD and they’re not high profile cases and so ex-gratia payments are not a good way of consistently making sure that they can get on with their lives.”
Meanwhile, WA Police Union President George Tilbury told WA today there’s significant support for the campaign for workers’ compensation.
“Police officers accept that they do a difficult and dangerous job, however they need peace of mind that if they are seriously injured and forced into medical retirement that they will be looked after,” he said.
“Some police officers, through no fault of their own, have been medically retired and effectively thrown on the scrap heap and left to fend for themselves.”
What do you think of Wendy Kennedy’s letter to the Queen? Does this issue make you angry for WA police officers?