Monday, 30 August 2021
National Police Remembrance Day
I rise to speak today about National Police Remembrance Day, and I acknowledge and thank the member for Fowler for moving this important motion.
For 24 hours, seven days a week and 365 days a year, the men and women of the police services of Australia protect us. From regional towns to the inner cities, and in my electorate of Reid, they put on the blue uniform every day and serve their communities with professionalism, courage and commitment. They put their lives on the line to keep our community safe and to keep Australia safe. Today, and at the upcoming National Police Remembrance Day on 29 September, we will pause to thank them and reflect on the bravery of police officers who have served and who continue to serve, and we will pay tribute to those officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Sadly, this year, a further 10 names will be added to the National Police Memorial wall, three of whom lost their lives in the past 12 months: Western Australian police Detective Senior Constable Michael James Cursiter; NSW Police Force Senior Constable Kelly Foster; and Queensland police Senior Constable David Masters.
The death of any police officer is a tragedy for their loved ones, for their colleagues and for the community. The grief and pain may be different, but we all feel it. We all feel it because we recognise that police officers stand between us and those who seek to do harm. They run towards danger when others run from it. The role of the police is also at the forefront of many people's minds in the community at this time. Policing during COVID-19 is not an easy task; it is multifaceted and there are many aspects to it. For our police officers serving on the front line in New South Wales it's particularly difficult right now. They have been given incredible powers, but we know that these are powers which they can't wait to relinquish. We know that it's incredibly difficult for police to have to enforce COVID-19 restrictions at funerals, church services and family gatherings. The reality is that we ask a lot of our police; to enforce the law is not an easy task. But we must not lose sight of the fact that they themselves have families. Just like us, they're also living through this lockdown. Each day they leave their families to serve the community.
We only have to reflect on the violent protests we saw in Sydney a few weeks ago to recognise the risks officers are under. While I recognise that, for some, seeing more police on the streets is not reassuring at this time, we must remember that just as we empower our police to take drunk drivers off the road and to find speeding drivers, so too we empower them to keep us safe by minimising the spread of COVID-19 in our communities during these challenging times.
I also want to take this opportunity to commend the vital work of Police Legacy, who look after the loved ones of fallen officers. They provide practical care at difficult times; this might mean supporting children through their education, providing referrals for bereavement counselling and other social services or introducing them to other Police Legacy families who have also gone through the same grief.
I am honoured and humbled to stand here today and remember Michael James Cursiter, Kelly Foster and David Masters. They are heroes. This National Police Remembrance Day we will pause to express our gratitude to those who protect and serve our communities, and ensure that those who have fallen are never forgotten.