The Northern Territory is Australia's last frontier and it takes a special kind of person to police it. Police work in the Northern Territory is varied and exciting. It is also testing, isolated and sometimes very dangerous with the nearest assistance often several hundred kilometres away.
It is the role of the Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) to look after the courageous men and women who enforce the laws within its borders and on the islands off the coast.
It is the Association's charter to see to their welfare, to protect their conditions of service, to ensure they are properly equipped and trained 'to fight the good fight', to look after their loved ones when tragedy strikes and also to enhance the profession of policing in Australia's far north.
The NTPA was established more than 80 years ago, in 1939. Our members have since served with distinction. Our members are recognised amongst the finest in Australia and we are proud to serve them.
The Northern Territory Police Force was founded in 1870 as a division of the South Australia Police Force.
Sub-Inspector Paul Foelsche, one corporal and five troopers arrived in Darwin and remained a subset of the South Australian contingent until 1911 when the Commonwealth assumed control of the Northern Territory. Discipline was tough, living conditions rough and many single members lived in tents. An industrial body representing Police was but a dream.
The unofficial name change to the Northern Territory Mounted Police unfortunately did not result in improved conditions for members and in 1922, a Parliamentary visit to the Territory resulted in South Australian Senator Sir John Newlands announcing to Federal Parliament:
"We found that on travelling through the Northern Territory that the conditions under which the Police are asked to live are an absolute disgrace. They have the worst horses, and the worst accommodation of any section of people in the Territory."
By the mid 1930's a number of members were dissatisfied with the system of promotions without examination, the lack of an allowance for escorting leper patients and inadequate accommodation and patronage in relation to postings. Pay rises were infrequent and the poor standard of housing was a particular issue of contention as other government employees consistently received better quality accommodation.
The NTPA's rich history commenced just two months after the declaration of World War II, when an inaugural meeting of the Association was held.
After members had become aware of the existence of a Police Union in Queensland and Police Associations elsewhere, Constable (later Inspector) JJ Mannion GM, convened a meeting of members to discuss the formation of an Association on 12 November, 1939.
Inspector John Creed Lovegrove addressed the meeting saying:
"I wish the Association well and I am of the opinion that the movement will not just be a temporary affair but shall go on and on"
The first Annual General Meeting of the Association was held in March 1940 at which Sergeant Robert 'Jock' Reid KPM was elected President.
Following the Bombing of Darwin on 19 February, 1942 and the evacuation of most Police to other regions, the Association ceased to function for the remainder of World War II but was reborn in July 1945 at a meeting held in a school at Alice Springs. Sergeant RR Bridgland became the new President.
In 1948, the Executive of the Association started to lobby for the formation of a Police Arbitral Tribunal. The Minister approved the application and Judge Wells of the Northern Territory Supreme Court was appointed the first chairman in 1949. The Police Appeal Board came into existence at the same time.
The first Determination was signed in 1949 and a log of claims submitted in April 1960 resulted in significant increases in Police salaries.
Unfortunately, the devastation of Cyclone Tracy (1974) resulted in the loss of a number of records, particularly those from the 1960 and 1974 period which hampers our recollection of this time.
In 1979 the Association was incorporated and appointed its first full-time employee in the same year.
In 1996 the NTPA Constitution was changed to permit Commissioned Officers to join our Association.
The Constitution was further amended in 2004 making the elected President a full-time employee of our Association, bringing our Association in line with other Police Association and Unions across Australia.
Our Association is part of the Police Federation of Australia, the representative industrial voice for the more than 66,000 Police officers nationally. A brief history of the Police Federation of Australia can be accessed here.
We are proud of our members and our history - the NTPA recognises its Life Members who have served the Association:
- Alexander Carolan (awarded 1985)
- Gowan R Carter (1991)
- Stephen J Wallace (1992)
- Anne-Marie Murphy (1994)
- Bruce Sandry (1996)
- Maxwell J Hill (1999)
- William E Josephs (2000)
- Laurence R Clifford (awarded posthumously 2004)
- Shaun K O'Sullivan (2004)
- Andrew Smith (2007)
- David Chalker (2012)
- Tim Lloyd (2012)
- Sean Parnell (2012)
- Vince Kelly (2014)
- Col Goodsell (2016)
- Owen Blackwell (2017)
- Kylie Anderson (2018)
- Chris Wilson (2020)
- Crispin Gargan (2020)
- Paul McCue (2022)
The contributions and sacrifices made by members past and present have driven the NTPA to be the united organisation that it is today. We continue to proudly serve our members and work together to protect our future.
80 Years Strong
In 2019, the Northern Territory Police Association proudly celebrated its 80th Anniversary. Eighty years of working together to protect our future, 80 years of standing together, side by side, so no one is forced to stand alone.
The first official meeting of the NTPA was on November 12, 1939.
Back then, it was a small group of bright and visionary officers who decided to formalise their strength in numbers.
A brave Constable, Jim Mannion, put up a motion to create the Association and more than 80 years later the NTPA is still representing the interests of its members.
This video above is a snapshot of memories and reflections of past and present members of the NTPA and a chance to reflect on the successes and challenges of the past 80 years, as well as a chance to explore the future of our Association.
SPECIAL THANKS & CREDITS: PRLX Creative Production, Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services (NTPFES), Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Australian Screen.