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‘Nowhere to turn to’: Traumatised cops need retirement support

Original article written by Mark Buttler: https://edition.pagesuite.com/popovers/dynamic_article_popover.aspx?artguid=be954d49-ada4-46d2-b1ca-bfa12dd59a4f

POLICE veterans should be backed in the same way as former defence force personnel, a key support body says.

Police Veterans Victoria fights for former officers, some of whom find themselves battling post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health issues, depression and substance abuse when their time in the job is up.

Police welfare was again in the spotlight this week as the state marked Police Remembrance Day. There are an estimated 15,000 police veterans in Victoria and the not-for profit PVV is a key support element for them.

The organisation gets no state or federal funding and relies on the generosity of its private backers. Its veteran peer support officers are former cops trained to provide confidential support and referral services to those who have finished their service.

PVV chief executive David McGowan said the organisation had been operating for two years and could do so much with more support.

He said its ultimate aim was to have all former members join.

“It’s like Field of Dreams … if you build it they will come,” Mr McGowan said.

“The issues facing veterans are a hidden tragedy.”

He said Victoria Police provided office space and a social worker but it was still a battle to help as many former members and their families as was desirable.

“We’re rattling tins. We had a corporate lunch arranged for (this month) but that was obviously cancelled,” Mr McGowan said.

Another sad date passed this week with the anniversary of the September 27, 1993 death of former homicide squad detective John Hill.

Mr Hill investigated the 1988 fatal police shooting of armed robber Graeme Jensen at Narre Warren, which resulted in eight police being charged.

Ultimately, Mr Hill himself was charged with being an accessory after the fact because of his investigation and suspended from the force.

Humiliated, suspended and under extreme pressure, he took his own life.

Mr McGowan, who knew Mr Hill, said the case was a tragic example of a distinguished member left feeling isolated and desperately in need of help.

“John’s story is a really tragic reminder of the repercussions of a lack of mental health support when he needed it most,” Mr McGowan said.

“He didn’t want to reach out. He suffered in silence. He had no one to turn to. We’re trying to change that.”

mark.buttler@news.com.au

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO HELP PVV, CONTACT POLICEVETERANSVIC.ORG.AU.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW NEEDS HELP: LIFELINE 13 11 14

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