Re­tired hurt cops in line for re­dress

The West Australian - - NEWS - Tim Clarke

A re­dress scheme for WA po­lice of­fi­cers who have been forced to re­tire on med­i­cal grounds has fi­nally been given the green light, with the State Govern­ment set­ting aside $16 mil­lion for the Aus­tralia-first ini­tia­tive.

Af­ter years of prom­ises, the re­dress scheme will be­gin look­ing at claims from med­i­cally re­tired of­fi­cers in the new year.

And The Week­end West can re­veal for­mer po­lice com­mis­sioner Karl O’Cal­laghan will head the panel to as­sess the claims of for­mer cops forced off the job be­cause of ill­ness or in­jury.

The ex gra­tia-type pay­ments will be capped at $150,000 per of­fi­cer — and will not pre­clude fur­ther le­gal ac­tion.

Po­lice Min­is­ter Michelle Roberts said the scheme had been de­signed to be straight­for­ward and not le­gal­is­tic, to pro­tect re­tired of­fi­cers from fur­ther trauma.

Rather, she hopes the scheme will heal some old wounds.

“We were keen not only to ac­knowl­edge the treat­ment of of­fi­cers in the past but also pro­vide some fi­nan­cial re­dress for them too,” Mrs Roberts said.

“This has been a very emo­tional is­sue for the of­fi­cers and the fam­i­lies who have lived through this with them and many of them re­tired in an era when PTSD wasn’t fully un­der­stood.”

Since 2002, it is es­ti­mated that more than 350 po­lice of­fi­cers med­i­cally re­tired from the WA po­lice force.

Dr O’Cal­laghan said he is more than happy to head up the panel, hav­ing over­seen the med­i­cal re­tire­ment of of­fi­cers with­out any re­dress avail­able to them.

“There are many po­lice of­fi­cers I know have felt aban­doned by the or­gan­i­sa­tion . . . and felt there was not sup­port there, and felt badly treated,” he said.

“This is an ac­knowl­edge­ment by govern­ment and the po­lice that things could have been and should have been done bet­ter.”

Dave Bent­ley, pres­i­dent of the Med­i­cally Re­tired WA Po­lice Of­fi­cers As­so­ci­a­tion, said that the scheme would make a big dif­fer­ence to many.

“This has been a long time com­ing,” he said. “A lot of peo­ple have felt aban­doned, be­trayed and de­jected. Hope­fully peo­ple can now put aside the bit­ter­ness, the anx­i­ety and the anger.”

Pic­ture: Nic Nai­tanui/In­sta­gram

Ea­gles dress up for a night out in Hong Kong.

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