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Monday, 31 August 2020
Page: 6105

Mrs ELLIOT (Richmond) (17:30): I also rise today to speak in support of the motion by the member for Fowler. I'd like to acknowledge the member for his ongoing dedication to this important day of police remembrance and his continued advocacy in all areas of policing. I also acknowledge the contribution of all other members here today. I note the motion reaffirms our support for the nation's police officers and honours their courage, commitment and dedication in ensuring the peace and safety of our communities. Of course, this is even more so the case now with the added duties our police are undertaking due to COVID-19 health restrictions across the nation. I'd like to acknowledge the additional challenges that those police are facing and commend them for all they are doing to keep us and our communities safe.

I was very proud to previously serve as a general duties police officer in the Queensland Police Service. I'd like to thank all police right across the nation for the work they do. Of course, today I make special mention of the police back home in my electorate of Richmond, on the New South Wales North Coast, who serve and protect our community with such commitment. I'd like to thank and acknowledge the officers serving in the commands on the New South Wales North Coast, also specifically for their ongoing efforts during the COVID-19 crisis. I know firsthand the outstanding work that they are doing in these incredibly challenging times. Each police officer plays a vital role towards ensuring our local communities are safe. I acknowledge the great risk and personal sacrifice that comes with such duty.

This year marks the 31st anniversary of Police Remembrance Day. It's a time when we pause to honour the lives and memories of the police who've had their lives tragically cut short in their work protecting us. It is a very solemn and important day for police officers, their loved ones and the wider police family. It's also an important day for our community to reflect on the role of our police as they serve, protect and uphold the laws. In particular, we pay tribute to the men and women in the police service who've made the ultimate sacrifice. Together, we must ensure their legacies are preserved. This year, we specifically pay tribute to Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Constable Glen Humphris, Senior Constable Kevin King and Constable Joshua Prestney, all of whom tragically lost their lives in a multiple vehicle collision on Melbourne's Eastern Freeway on 22 April this year. I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to their family, friends and colleagues. It's in these difficult times that wider support is incredibly essential.

On that note, I wish to pay tribute to the very enduring work of Police Legacy. Police Legacy is a remarkable organisation providing services to police legatees and members of the wider police family. In New South Wales, Police Legacy provides support services and advocacy to around 1,000 police legatees, and, for more than 30 years, NSW Police Legacy has been providing both financial assistance and, indeed, support for our police families. Also, as a former general duties police officer myself, I've seen firsthand some of the situations and complexities that police officers face day in, day out whilst serving their communities in the execution of their duties. It's important to acknowledge that, again, these individuals are out there working hard for us and they sometimes have to face difficult, confronting and, indeed, very dangerous situations. It's during these times that police are sometimes faced with fatal incidents and horrific tragedies. It's often the same police who then have to deliver very heartbreaking news to families that a loved one has died. So I'd like to commend the police for their empathy, strength and professionalism in performing such work. I also would like to acknowledge the post-traumatic stress disorders that some officers may carry as a direct result of their police experience.

Recognising and responding to the issues, pressures and challenges that our police face is, indeed, essential and we must raise the public's awareness of the realities that police officers face in their duties. In fact, there are many specific challenges in policing in regional areas as well, like mine on the New South Wales North Coast. I have commented many times on this and continue to call for more staff and associated resources for regional communities like mine on the Far North Coast of New South Wales. I encourage locals in my area and across the country to take a moment to think about the role that police officers play within our community, in our area and, indeed, right throughout the country. Particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, we need to think about the extra workload that police have and work with them. It is a very challenging time and they are doing a remarkable job as we move through this pandemic. I congratulate them on the work they're doing and commend them for their work, and I ask the community to work with them. I would like to say to the police in my local area and indeed throughout the nation: thank you for your service. National Police Remembrance Day is a very important occasion. It's an occasion for us all to come together and recognise our police services, and I certainly encourage everyone in the community to do that on National Police Remembrance Day.