Commissioner’s speech National Police Memorial Day

Delivered on 29 September at National Police Memorial Day, Canberra ACT.

Good afternoon

I would also like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

  • His Excellency David Hurley AC DSC, Governor-General of Australia, and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley.
  • The Honourable Anthony Albanese MP, Prime Minister of Australia
  • It has been a number of years since a serving Prime Minister has attended this service and I am pleased to welcome you here today
  • The Honourable Mark Dreyfus KC MP, Attorney-General
  • Mr Chris Steel MLA, acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the ACT Chief Minister
  • General Angus Campbell AO DSC, Chief of Defence Force
  • Minister for Justice, Thailand, Mr Somsak Thepsuthin, representing the Kingdom of Thailand
  • Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho (NG-GILL-EE-HO), Fiji Police Commissioner
  • Her Excellency Mrs Ma Hellen Barber De La Vega, Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines
  • Her Excellency the Honourable Dame Annette King, High Commissioner of New Zealand to Australia
  • His Excellency Mr Antonis Sammoutis, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus
  • Mr Matt Anderson PSM, Director Australian War Memorial
  • Ms Katherine Jones PSM, Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department
  • Mr Paul Symon AO, Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service
  • Ms Jaala Hinchcliffe, Integrity Commissioner of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
  • Mr lain Anderson, Commonwealth Ombudsman
  • Mr Andrew Colvin AO APM, former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police
  • Members and representatives of the Police Federation of Australia and all state and territory police unions and associations
  • My Australian Federal Police, State and Territory police colleagues
  • Family and friends, and in particular Leading Senior Constable Thomas Kinnane from Victoria Police and the Weaver family.

I thank you for being here today as we commemorate the fallen.

Today, throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific, National Police Remembrance Day is being recognised to honour all who have served and continue to answer the call of duty, and to commemorate our colleagues who have.made the ultimate sacrifice.

Today, we especially honour the memory of our colleagues who have lost their lives for the betterment of ours.

There are 823 names of men and women killed in the line of duty or who have died as a result of their duties featured on touchstones behind me on the wall of remembrance.

This morning at a joint-ceremony hosted by the NSW Police Force, Monaro District and ACT Policing, the touchstones bearing the names of 15 police officers were received at the National Police Memorial.

These touchstones commemorate lives cut short in tragic circumstances, some dating back to the 1800s, and one, more recent and closer to home which continues to be felt by the collective policing family.

The 15 touchstones installed here earlier today were driven in convoy from the Queanbeyan Police Station, where they have been on display for the preceding two weeks.

Escort was provided by NSW Police Highway Patrol and ACT Road Policing officers, paying due respect to our fallen colleagues.

Upon arrival here at the National Police Memorial, they were received by Ceremonial Officers from all Australian police forces in a fitting and dignified ceremony.

From the time they are crafted, these touchstones are treated with sanctity and continuity of care as if they were the officers themselves.

It is tradition that representatives of each jurisdiction whose members are being added to the wall play a role in the delivery of the touchstones, carrying the names of their fellow officers.

The touchstone of Victoria Police Senior Constable Bria Joyce, was carried here this morning by her policing partner, Leading Senior Constable Thomas Kinnane.

The touchstones of our three Northern Territory Police officers were carried here by Northern Territory Police and AFP Ceremonial Officers:

  • Tracker Mungo, who died on 2 November 1890 after being shot while attempting to prevent a prisoner escape;
  • Constable Peter, who died on 10 January 1890 after he was stabbed with a spear while performing his duties; and
  • Constable Walter, who died on 1 November 1892 after he was stabbed with a spear while performing his duties.

The touchstones of 10 Tasmania Police officers from the 1800s, killed in the line of duty or as a result of their duties, were all individually carried here this morning by members of Tasmania Police.

The touchstone of Commonwealth Police Officer, Senior Constable Travers Lovell House WEAVER, who died on 25 June 1968 after suffering a coronary occlusion while removing protestors barricaded in the Commonwealth Centre in Sydney, was carried here this morning by AFP Protective Service Officer Shannon Dodd.

I would particularly like to acknowledge the Weaver family who are here today, all six of Travers Weaver’s children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.

Only early this week we were able to connect with them, and we are very grateful that you’ve been able to join us today to honour Senior Constable Weaver in this way.

We also acknowledge First Constable Neil Maino from the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary who died as a result of his duties on 11 May this year.

Policing is a service and an honour.

For those of us who heed this call, we are aware of our heavy responsibility, and the perils that come with it. We choose this vocation not for ourselves, but for our communities and for our country.

As police officers, we dedicate our lives to protect Australia’s way of life; secure in our ability to work, raise our families, express ourselves, practice our religions and enjoy our interests.

All 823 of our colleagues, represented by the touchstones behind me ultimately died as a result of protecting Australia’s way of life.

Most officers on this wall had no reason to feel their lives were threatened, going to work with the full expectation of returning home. We are often called on to act, not with an absence of fear, but with the courage to face it.

As a community, we trust and rely on our police officers to keep us safe, but that safety is not always afforded to our police officers in the course of these duties.

The undulations in the terrain here as part of the National Police Memorial design reflects the uncertain path police tread in the performance of our duties.

But policing is also an occupation that brings with it a great sense of pride, unparalleled comradery, and where the highs of success make our mission all the more worthwhile.

Tonight, faces of our fallen will light up the Carillion adjacent to us, and the touchstones of our fallen colleagues will shine brightly.

Today, we pay tribute to our fallen officers, their families, friends and colleagues, who now carry their scars.

Through their commemoration and instatement on the National Police Memorial, their legacy, service and sacrifice will always be remembered.

Thank you for your service

Reece P Kershaw APM

Commissioner

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