9 May 2023

Australian Federal Police 'left behind' in upcoming budget while govt invests in military workforce, AFPA says

| Andrew McLaughlin
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AFP jacket

The AFP Association has called for additional funding for retention bonuses and recognition for retired officers. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

The Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) has called on the federal government to match the retention and recruitment bonuses it will pay Australian Defence Force personnel for its own members.

In a 5 May release, AFPA president Alex Caruana said the disparity between the ADF and the AFP workforces continued to grow. He said that, while he felt ADF members deserved their bonuses which were announced on 2 May, so do AFP members.

“It’s disappointing that the Federal Government doesn’t invest in the AFP at the same level that it does with the ADF,” Mr Caruana said in the release. “Across the country, there are systemic issues with recruitment and retention in law enforcement.

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Mr Caruana said that being part of the AFP is a demanding, high-risk role, and should be rewarded as such.

“AFP members are Commonwealth employees who risk their physical and mental health daily,” he added. “The AFP’s role is to enforce Commonwealth criminal law, investigate and combat serious and transnational crimes impacting Australia’s national security, and protect Commonwealth interests from criminal activity in Australia and overseas.”

He said AFP members are at the forefront of investigating very serious crimes. “They undertake community policing roles in the ACT and airports around Australia, with the potential to go to battle every single shift.

“In both a national and international environment, this workforce protects children from exploitation; protects politicians, dignitaries and critical infrastructure; and stops human trafficking, drug importations, and terrorism. They stop crimes that many Australians won’t ever hear about.

“If a terrorism incident were to occur in Australia, it would be police officers on the frontline defending the country and protecting the community. Policing is a dangerous profession, and it is becoming more so every day. I don’t think the Federal Government really appreciates the work that AFP members undertake, and they certainly aren’t demonstrating their appreciation by supporting them for their time served.”

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The statement pointed to a recent survey, which found that less than one-third of AFP officers felt like the government respects them.

“AFP officers are among the lowest base paid police officers in the country,” Mr Caruana said. “This is a direct result of the Federal Government’s policies, alongside the wage freezes imposed by the previous Federal Government. These freezes put AFP members even further behind their state and territory colleagues.”

He said that, while AFP members see their ADF colleagues receiving retention bonuses and assistance from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, former and retired AFP members have felt left behind without support or recognition.

“The AFPA has long been calling on the Federal Government to support AFP members (past, present and future) by introducing an AFP Blue Card, offering the same benefits as the DVA’s White Card,” Mr Caruana said. “This would be a great first step in acknowledging the work of AFP members and the physical and mental toll this work takes.”

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