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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 May 1995) . . Page.. 640 ..


MR STEFANIAK: It is a little more current, though, Mr Speaker, and a little more interesting to the people of Canberra perhaps. Certainly, you are quite right; it is longer than the Gettysburg Address, and both you and Mr Berry will be delighted that I am coming to my final remarks. Mr Berry, there are, clearly, heavy financial and administrative costs arising from this new tax attack. It will have a harsh impact on Canberra builders and home buyers. It is certainly the hope of this Government that these measures will not pass the Senate. I hope that I can say that with the support of all members in this place, not just those on this side of the house.

Police Chaplain

MR OSBORNE: My question is to the Minister for Police. Minister, the ACT Police Association has written to me asking for assistance in getting a police chaplain appointed. Having had seven years in the police force myself, my sympathies are entirely with them. The work can be extremely stressful and is often, as has become obvious in this Assembly, a thankless job. The importance of having someone to talk with after a traumatic fire or accident, a murder, a rape or a suicide is well recognised for victims and families, and also for social workers and others closely involved, so I ask the Minister to give some thought to our police men and women. We have chaplains in hospitals, for our defence forces, and even for our sporting teams. Can the ACT police have one too?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Mr Osborne for that question. He refers to the ACT Police Association. I am not sure whether that is a reference to the Australian Federal Police Association, ACT Branch, or the Canberra Police Association; but, whichever it is, the question is still quite relevant. I have discovered in the last few days that the ACT Region of the Federal Police do not have any chaplaincy services and I think that that is a matter that should cause us some regret. Clearly, people such as police involved in emergency service situations do have to face highly traumatic incidents throughout their working lives. They can range from death to serious injury, to a loss of people’s loved ones, having to advise relatives when people have been killed in road accidents, and so on. There are tremendous pressures on such people. The rate of burnout is very high. The level of retirement at the first available opportunity is also too high, and we do tend to lose too many good police for reasons very much related to those questions of stress.

Mr Speaker, I am quite prepared to raise with the Commissioner of the AFP the question of whether a chaplain ought to be provided to the ACT Region of the AFP. I understand that it would not necessarily be an expensive option in that in other services these chaplaincies often operate on an honorary basis or on a nominal cost basis for the work they do on particular occasions rather than be paid an ongoing retainer. I am quite prepared to consider that option. I think that is only reasonable and I hope that it is something we can do. We have indicated in our remarks already, Mr Speaker, that we intend to deliver on a promise to provide more police on the beat on Canberra streets. I am not sure whether a police chaplain would be within the frame of that promise, but I can say that it lines up with our commitment to support officers in our emergency services generally in this Territory, who face tremendous difficulties in the jobs that they do.


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