Leav­ing a legacy for those left be­hind

It is easy to lose sight of what our Po­lice Force ac­tu­ally does. The un­re­al­is­tic action and melo­dra­matic sto­ry­lines we see in tele­vi­sion dra­mas is not a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the work that is un­der­taken. These shows of­ten ne­glect the com­mu­nity ser­vice an

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Polic­ing is a dangerous job, so when of­fi­cers put their lives on the line they need to be as­sured that fam­ily and loved ones are well taken care of and sup­ported should dire si­t­u­a­tions oc­cur. Or­gan­i­sa­tions such as NSW Po­lice Legacy (NSWPL) go a long way to in­still­ing peace of mind.

In essence NSWPL cares for the Po­lice Fam­ily.

“We ex­ist to sup­port our po­lice lega­tees: the wid­ows, wid­ow­ers, part­ners, and chil­dren of de­ceased NSW Po­lice Of­fi­cers. We also care for the par­ents of de­ceased NSW Po­lice Of­fi­cers,” NSW Po­lice Legacy Chair Gary Mer­ry­weather says.

It is not just death, how­ever, that calls the or­gan­i­sa­tion into action. In 2013, NSW Po­lice Legacy amended its con­sti­tu­tion to ex­tend its role to as­sist NSW po­lice and their fam­i­lies fac­ing dif­fi­cult, tragic and ne­ces­si­tous cir­cum­stances.

There is also the tran­si­tion from po­lice to civil­ian life to take into ac­count, which can be trau­matic in it­self.

“The more re­cent BACKUP for Life ini­tia­tive sup­ports for­mer NSW po­lice and their fam­i­lies as they tran­si­tion from a ca­reer in polic­ing to civil­ian life via a num­ber of ini­tia­tives in­clud­ing coun­selling, men­tor­ing, ca­reer devel­op­ment and fam­ily sup­port,” De­tec­tive Su­per­in­ten­dent Mer­ry­weather says.

It is work that shouldn’t be un­der­es­ti­mated. Ac­cord­ing to Mer­ry­weather, reg­u­lar work­place health and safety laws don’t nec­es­sar­ily ap­ply. There are risks in­volved that very few peo­ple will ex­pe­ri­ence. These risks war­rant an ex­tra level of care.

That is where NSWPL is ready to step in and sup­port them.

“The risks they en­counter are not sup­ported by their re­mu­ner­a­tion so NSWPL as the NSW Po­lice Force char­ity pro­vides a range of ben­e­fits and ser­vices to en­sure they are hon­oured and sup­ported in their role and when tragedy strikes.

“A lot peo­ple do not re­alise the risks Po­lice face on a daily ba­sis where they have to act on their oath of of­fice in pro­tect­ing life and prop­erty. This can range from deal­ing with dangerous crim­i­nals to res­cu­ing peo­ple in need of help, un­avoid­ably of­ten these jobs put the safety of of­fi­cers in jeop­ardy. Hav­ing NSWPL be­hind our of­fi­cers pro­vides them with se­cu­rity and surety that if some­thing un­fore­seen hap­pens to them their fam­i­lies and loved ones will be taken care of. The in­tro­duc­tion of the BACKUP for Life pro­gram takes the care we pro­vide one step fur­ther as we pro­vide var­i­ous op­tions to for­mer of­fi­cers and their fam­i­lies fol­low­ing their polic­ing ca­reer. This can ad­dress men­tal health is­sues im­pacted by the ex­po­sure to trauma in polic­ing to as­sist­ing them with a ca­reer tran­si­tion fol­low­ing a phys­i­cal in­jury.”

In essence NSWPL helps po­lice lega­tees by pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion and wel­fare grants, schol­ar­ships, spe­cial as­sis­tance grants such as driv­ing les­son sup­port, or re­train­ing to help them re­turn to work. Fur­ther ser­vices in­clude aged care sup­port and ad­vo­cacy as well as wel­fare grants for fam­i­lies who are fac­ing dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. The or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­vides re­fer­rals to coun­selling and sup­port ser­vices and act as ad­vo­cates for many other com­mu­nity sup­port ser­vices for all ages.

Ad­ven­ture camps are held twice a year, fam­ily days and lun­cheons are reg­u­lar oc­cur­rences, and there is also a Par­ents’ Sup­port Net­work.

Last July, 35 Po­lice Lega­tees trav­elled to Uluru and Kata Tjuta and in Jan­uary this year 41 from NSWPL and 10 from AFP Legacy joined forces at the Narrabeen Sport and Recre­ation Fa­cil­ity for a week of ca­noe­ing, climb­ing, sail­ing, surf­ing, tack­ling, scram­bling, vol­ley­ing, walking, telling sto­ries and laugh­ing.

It is im­por­tant that po­lice of­fi­cers feel like they have their own com­mu­nity to lean on: a com­mu­nity that of­fers a life­time of sup­port.

“We are al­ways pleased to see

our Po­lice Lega­tees who started their jour­ney with us as chil­dren grow up into ex­cep­tional young adults. It seems un­fair to sin­gle out any­one, but two of our re­cent suc­cesses are Caitlin Robin­son and Blake Brother­son.

“Blake re­cently re­turned from walking the Kokoda Trail along with a group of young po­lice lega­tees. As part of the Trek ex­pe­ri­ence we ask our lega­tees to fundraise for us, and Blake was re­spon­si­ble in co­or­di­na­tion with the Lo­cal Area Com­mand in his area (di­rectly and in­di­rectly) for rais­ing nearly $19,000. And Caitlin is cur­rently in the mid­dle of her train­ing at the Po­lice Academy – an in­spi­ra­tion for us all!”

Mer­ry­weather was re­cently ap­pointed to the Chair­per­son role. He has served the Force since 1987 and was pro­moted to the Rank of Su­per­in­ten­dent in 2008, tak­ing up Com­mand po­si­tions at Monaro, Quak­ers Hill and Black­town Po­lice area Com­mands. In 2014 he was ap­pointed as Com­man­der, Black­town Lo­cal Area Com­mand. He is a strong ad­vo­cate for the pre­ven­tion of vi­o­lence to­wards women and an ac­tive White Rib­bon Am­bas­sador.

Look­ing af­ter the wel­fare of Po­lice Of­fi­cers is a pas­sion and Mer­ry­weather has, for sev­eral years, been an ac­tive sup­porter of wel­fare ser­vices. So his ap­point­ment to the NSWPL in 2017 came as no sur­prise.

His vi­sion is to grow NSWPL by way of cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship and match giv­ing pro­grams. By ac­tively get­ting in­volved in these ini­tia­tives, busi­nesses can demon­strate their so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity and sup­port to­wards the NSW Po­lice Force and the Po­lice fam­ily, en­abling the char­ity to ex­pand its ser­vices to its ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

Sup­port is re­ceived via in­di­vid­ual and cor­po­rate donors to run the char­ity and man­age its many pro­grams. It also im­por­tant to note that po­lice of­fi­cers are also great bene­fac­tors. One im­por­tant source of fund­ing is through po­lice of­fi­cers com­mit­ted to the work NSWPL do.

Mer­ry­weather will also be look­ing to in­crease sup­port from cor­po­rate part­ners, and look to fur­ther in­crease the strong and on­go­ing ties NSWPL has within the busi­ness sec­tor. Cur­rent part­ners in­clude: Po­lice Bank and the Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion of NSW.

“The Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion has been with us since the be­gin­ning – one of our co-founders was Lloyd Tay­lor, the Pres­i­dent of the Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion of NSW,” Mer­ry­weather says.

Mer­ry­weather will look to nur­ture ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships, whilst in­creas­ing aware­ness of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, and en­cour­ag­ing com­pa­nies to join.

As noted cor­po­rate sup­port is al­ready strong, how­ever cru­cially gov­ern­ment is also in­volved

“Un­til the BACKUP for Life pro­gram started (in 2016), we re­ceived no gov­ern­ment fund­ing what­so­ever, re­ly­ing en­tirely on the sup­port of our serv­ing NSW po­lice of­fi­cers through salary de­duc­tions, in­di­vid­u­als and cor­po­rate donors. The BACKUP for Life pro­gram is funded through a grant from the NSW Gov­ern­ment and this pro­gram is fo­cused on re­train­ing of­fi­cers who have been in­jured and can no longer be Po­lice for a range of rea­sons. We tran­si­tion these of­fi­cers into al­ter­na­tive em­ploy­ment and pro­vide a net­work of sup­port if they are un­able to work any longer.”

This self-funded not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion re­lies on the sup­port and gen­eros­ity of the Po­lice Fam­ily as well as the wider com­mu­nity. Mer­ry­weather will con­tinue to push its virtues and build re­la­tion­ships out­side the Force to en­sure NSWPL con­tin­ues to grow stronger, whilst de­liv­er­ing even more ben­e­fits to its mem­bers.

Gary Mer­ry­weather

NSW Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Michael Fuller APM and Ms Kate Kilby

Po­lice Re­mem­brance Day

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