On the frontline

The IEU made a submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Assaults on NSW Police. Here’s what it covered and why.

As part of the IEU’s solidarity with union members in the NSW Police Association and our commitment to safety and respect in the workplace, the IEU made a submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Assaults on NSW Police.

The IEU focused on the importance of respect for police, teachers and other frontline workers who deal with complex and challenging situations every day. Work, health and safety laws should protect all workers to ensure they are treated with safety, dignity and respect.

Like teachers, police should feel valued and supported as they perform their work. They should also receive the training and resourcing needed to respond appropriately to the situations they face in their work, including dealing with mental health issues in the community and with family violence and domestic violence.

Part of the IEU’s submission encouraged an enhanced role for the police in positive and proactive community engagement, including with schools. We reiterated this when IEU officers Pam Smith and Russell Schokman met with the Law and Safety Committee at NSW Parliament House on 25 September.

This community engagement should include ongoing discussions, consultation and information sharing to inform the work of the NSW Police Force. It also includes police acting on relevant input received from community groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and other cultural groupings.

In line with this community focus, the union encourages expansion of police-community engagement through appropriate school-based programs, being mindful of the specific contexts of school communities. This engagement should be seen as supportive and developmental, with a focus on building harmonious and respectful interactions.

Safety for individuals, families and communities is a common area of concern for both police and schools, including respect for diversity and preventing and addressing all forms of violence.

The IEU’s submission was well received by the NSW Parliament’s Law and Justice Committee, which expressed its appreciation of the union’s expertise in the area of education and its knowledge of school communities. There is a shared commitment to valuing the work of police and school staff and to focusing on safety and respect in their workplaces.

Pam Smith and Russell Schokman