Submission to Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment – inquiry into the mental health of first responders

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Crowley-Cyr, Lynda and Hevers, James. 2018. Submission to Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment – inquiry into the mental health of first responders. Canberra, Australia. Parliament of Australia.
Title

Submission to Senate Standing Committee on Education and
Employment – inquiry into the mental health of first responders

Report TypeOther
AuthorsCrowley-Cyr, Lynda (Author) and Hevers, James (Author)
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Number of Pages30
SeriesThe role of Commonwealth, state and territory Governments in addressing the high rates of mental health conditions experienced by first responders, emergency service workers and volunteers
Year2018
PublisherParliament of Australia
Place of PublicationCanberra, Australia
Web Address (URL)https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Education_and_Employment/Mentalhealth
Abstract

The mental health of employees within Australia’s law enforcement agencies has proven to be challenging a challenging problem for organisational leaders to tackle. With one in four officers found to be experiencing moderate to high psychological distress at any one time, and the death of four Australian Federal Police officers by suicide with their firearms inside their workplaces in two years, this submission argues that the workplace health and safety regulatory schemes are failing to protect the health and safety of federal and state police as first responders. In doing so, it refers to two major reports in 2017-2018 (a report from post-traumatic mental health support group Phoenix Australia and an ANAO report on how the AFP is managing the mental health of its employees) that found problems like poor understanding of mental health issues in management, and officers reluctant to self-report struggles for fear of being bullied and other repercussions for speaking up. In addition, concerns about confidentiality, the impact on their pay and career prospects and the aggravated harm caused by applying for workers compensation, have all been disclosed repeatedly in police reports and in news reports. The submission concludes with a range of recommendations to mainly the workplace health and safety laws but also it calls for the reporting of suicides, and the rates of bullying in compensation claims by police and other first responders, to be made publicly available.

Keywordsmental health; law enforcement officers; Australia
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020480499. Law in context not elsewhere classified
520104. Industrial and organisational psychology (incl. human factors)
489999. Other law and legal studies not elsewhere classified
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Law and Justice
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