Private Members’ Motion: Police Remembrance Day

I acknowledge and thank the member for McPherson for bringing this very important motion to the House. It is with the deepest respect that I rise to speak on Police Remembrance Day, 29 September, to honour police officers who have given their lives serving our local communities. There are 86 names listed on the WA Police Force Honour Roll. They died in the line of duty. Behind each one of these is a loving, grieving family and friends. I thank those families as well in this speech today. I also recognise and thank all officers, past and present, for the work they do and have done day and night, providing critical and often lifesaving selfless service every day of the year.

In my electorate in the south-west of Western Australia, at the very moving service held outside the South-West Police Complex in Bunbury we focused on the loss of Senior Constable Jamie Pearson, who was killed in a traffic crash near Capel in 2004 while on duty. His passenger and work colleague, Senior Constable Lindsay Harding, survived the accident but sustained serious injuries. The naming of the Pearson Room is a respectful recognition of Jamie.

Day in and day out our police officers are our first responders. They are the first into some of the most risky and tragic situations. They are the ones who have to knock on the doors of families to break heart-breaking news. These are often families within their own communities. They work closely with the communities they serve and they often have to deal with some of the most aggressive and extremely violent behaviour. At times that is directed at the officers themselves. They help out in bushfires, floods and every emergency. When those of us are at our greatest risk or in genuine fear of our lives, the arrival of the police can be not only life-saving but so reassuring to desperate people.

In my home town of Harvey this year we saw an outstanding police response. An elderly couple towing a caravan lost control. The car and caravan rolled and the couple were trapped inside. The car caught fire—there were 125 litres of petrol in it and there were two gas bottles in the caravan. Senior Constable Kylie James and Probationary Constable Reece Josemans were quickly on the scene and worked out how to help the couple. They cut the seatbelts and dragged them out of the wrecked car, which exploded very quickly afterwards. Four officers, including Joe Dainty and Wayne Byram, did an incredible job that day, putting their own lives at risk to save others and working with assistance from local volunteer services, emergency services and people at the scene.

Each time I attend the service in Bunbury I’m profoundly moved by the respect shown for our fallen officers. There is the touching of the rock memorial in the forecourt and the reciting of the police prayer, which I would like to read today. The police prayer is:

God of all people, we know it is from you that we have learned what goodness and justice are. You have given us the task of maintaining law and order in our community.

We seek the strength to meet the many challenges encountered in this endeavour.

Give us the courage and the resolution to do our duty at all times, and such a respect and love for justice that neither promise nor threat will ever make us depart from it.

Help us with your guidance to be the Guardian and the Friend of the whole community; a friend to children, an example to youth, a counsellor and adviser to all citizens.

Grant us the skill, and the wisdom, to make us always stronger in protecting and supporting the community.

Guide us in knowing when to enforce and when to relax the letter of the law.

Help us to be a personal example of the honesty, the goodness, and the justice which it is our duty to maintain, and grant that our actions will inspire in our community confidence in its police officers.

We make our prayer to you, confident of your love and your compassion.

Amen.

That police prayer says it all about our current and past serving police officers.

I also thank each local police officer, wherever they are in Australia right at this moment. We know what they face every day. We know the courage and selfless approach they have to their work. I want to focus again back on how much comfort they bring to the community. They are the first into every situation wherever there is threat and risk. They help ordinary people every day, and they do it quietly and often unseen. I take this opportunity, as others have today, to honour and thank them for the service they provide, helping us in our communities to stay safe every single day. I thank the member for McPherson for this motion before the House.