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Friday 1 July 2022
A record number of officers quit the WA Police Force in the last financial year, and according to the responses to a live WA Police Union survey of recently resigned coppers, human resources is powering the exodus, not the resources sector.
WA Police Force data, which the WA Police Union collated, indicates more than 300 sworn officers have resigned from the agency over the past 12 months. Both WA Police Force and McGowan Government officials have made unsubstantiated claims attributing the former’s alarming attrition rate to the lure of the state’s resources sector, but the WA Police Union has empirical evidence to the contrary courtesy of responses to its live survey that’s got only a few days left to run.
“So far, 126 officers who’ve quit the WA Police Force since the turn of the year have responded to our survey,” said Mick Kelly, WA Police Union President.
“More than three-quarters of survey respondents (77.4%) have said dissatisfaction with WA Police Force management and culture was a reason they resigned.
“Most survey respondents have gone well beyond ticking a box to spell out why they walked away from the WA Police Force in recent months. Only one of them has referenced swapping a police station for a FIFO gig on a mine site, whereas dozens have explained how working for the agency decayed their mental health, demolished their personal relationships and destroyed their work-life balance.
“The WA Police Force’s poor human resources practices are what’s powering the accelerating exodus of officers from the agency, not rich resources sector jobs.”
Earlier this week, the WA Police Union launched its Switch Off Duty campaign (switchoffduty.com), the key message of which is its members need the right to disconnect because if they can’t switch off off duty, they can’t be on on duty.
The right to disconnect is the centrepiece item in the WA Police Union’s log of claims that sets out what its 7,000+ members, which make up approximately 98% of WA police officers, want included in their replacement industrial agreement.
Apart from securing a different job, the top five reasons which survey respondents have given (survey responses correct as at 1.00pm on Thursday 30 June 2022) as influencing their decisions to resign from the WA Police Force are:

77.4% dissatisfied with WA Police Force management and culture

“The WA Police Force management doesn’t care about its people. The value placed on experience, particularly frontline, is non-existent. The minister’s comments about the culture problem show how out of touch the hierarchy are. It saddens me to know how many experienced officers are leaving because they are so fed up with sub-par treatment. I participated in an internal interview in which I was treated worse than how we’re expected to treat suspects. The whole system is broken.”

37.4% long working hours and/or high workload

“I’d spent the past five years working in regional WA, which was critically understaffed. The workload was extremely excessive, expecting us to do more with less and sending us probationers to make up numbers. It was very dangerous at times. For me, the benefits weren’t enough to continue to put my own safety at risk. The culture wasn’t positive and the last few years I dreaded going to work.”

34.8% lack of career development or promotion opportunities

“Lack of development and support. Perceived unfairness or lack of real feedback on internal applications. Unrealistic expectations of upper management. The job itself is hard work. Throw in the office politics and it’s a lose-lose. Fighting with the people on the street then coming back in and fighting with the office politics.”

29.6% family circumstances

“Negative attitude from line manager regarding part-time arrangement and likelihood it wouldn’t be renewed despite positive feedback regarding my performance. Understanding many part-time positions across the agency are disappearing upon instruction from senior management. As my wife and I were both police officers with a young family, it wasn’t possible for us to both work full time. I secured other employment, which delivered greater flexibility and pay.”

20.9% poor pay and conditions

“Lack of support from management. Lack of interest from management. Lack of care of staff from WA Police Force. Looked elsewhere and secured better job with better pay, better conditions and better care from the company.”
Mark Worwood on 0479 187 970 or media@wapu.org.au.