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9 October, 2020

Minister fails to recognise fallen officers

POLICE Minister Mark Ryan has failed to provide certainty to families of police officers who have died by suicide after he did not respond to a parliamentary e-petition in time before parliament dissolved.


The petition, which was started by local resident Steven Isles and sponsored by Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto, called on the House to accept the recommendation of the Queensland Ombudsman and enable consideration on merit of serving police officers whose loss of life can be attributed to suicide added to the Police Honour Roll. 

With the government now in caretaker mode, a response will not be given until after the upcoming State election when a new government is sworn in.

 Mr Dametto said he was extremely disappointed that the Minister did not fast-track his response to the petition before the government went into caretaker mode on Tuesday. 

“This is a blow for the families of fallen officers who wanted their loved ones to be rightfully recognised on the Police Honour Roll,” he said.

 “Instead, the Minister has seen fit to defer making a call on this and put it in the too-hard basket. This process has been made needlessly painful by the lack of action here.” 

In its report, the Ombudsman found the blanket prohibition by the Queensland Police Honour Roll criteria to exclude from Police Memorial recognition of police officers who were deemed to have died by suicide was discriminatory.

 Mr Dametto said those findings were “crystal clear”. 

“Why there continues to be such a lack of action on this request is beyond me. The families of fallen officers deserve better,” he said.

 “It’s my understanding that such a change to the Police Honour Roll criteria would allow at least 13 other Queensland Police officers to be recognised. All we need is a change in policy that can be done at the stroke of a pen.” 

Mr Isles said the lack of response from the Minister was “predictable but nonetheless disappointing”.

 “This matter has an extensive history and has been pressed with Minister Mark Ryan in August 2017, again with the Minister in May 2018 and then taken to the Queensland Ombudsman in September 2018 with the Ombudsman in July 2020 finding the actions to exclude from the police honour roll those officers who are deemed to have committed suicide as discriminatory. There is a reason why this matter should be addressed by the minister or the Commissioner as a priority.” 

Mr Isles, who lost his father Senior-Sergeant Mick Isles more than 10 years ago, said he had received strong support from police families and serving officers in his quest to have the police honour roll criteria expanded.

 “It’s certainly been nothing but positive. Ultimately, some of the feedback has been that this seems to be congruent with the presumptive legislation for police officers who suffer from PTSD. It’s been supported right through to the level of Deputy Police commissioner,” he said. 

“I respectfully acknowledge the long-standing support of the Member for Hinchinbrook, Nick Dametto. Unfortunately, if there is not to be a response from the Minister or the Police Commissioner forthcoming in a timely manner, then following the swearing in of the new cabinet, I will be left with no option but to make an application to the Supreme Court of Queensland for a judicial review of the decision made, or proposed to be made, in which I would be asking a judge of the Supreme Court to consider as a body of substance, ratifying the decision of the Ombudsman.” 

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