Mental health support could curb police attrition rate


A record number of WA police left the force, and retired, last year according to a dossier compiled by the WA Police Union.

The Union claims the departures are a result of cultural and organisational issues such as poor pay and conditions, rigid leadership, a lack of career progress, and an internal culture centred around groupthink and defensiveness.

Western Australia Police acknowledge there are recruitment and retention challenges, while the State Government highlights the force is bigger than it has ever been, despite a tight labour market.

Lines attributable to former WA police officer and Yamatji-Noongar woman, Greens Senator Dorinda Cox:

“As a former WA police officer, I understand the cultural issues within the organisation, but I’ve also experienced the daily challenges, the thankless tasks, and the traumatic incidents of working on the frontline.

“While health services are available to all members of the force, we need to ensure that the wellbeing of police officers is a priority. They need to be physically and mentally fit to perform their crucial role in the community.  

“A Senate committee held an inquiry into the mental health of first responders, its 2019 report called for a Commonwealth-led process to be initiated to design and implement a National Action Plan on first responder mental health.

“The committee recommended compulsory first responder and management mental health awareness training, the establishment of a national register of health professionals who specialise in first responder mental health, and early intervention mental health support services be made available with the aim of preventing or reducing the severity of mental health conditions. 

“Blame shifting won’t curb the attrition rate of WA police but understanding and treating the trauma that officers take home with them every day, might be a productive first step.”