The following opinion piece by NTPA President, Paul McCue, was published in the Sunday Territorian on 12 February, 2023.

What is a life worth?
It’s a question that should never be asked, and a question that never crosses the minds of NT Police Officers.
Despite pulling mangled bodies from car wrecks, comforting victims of violent rapes and domestic violence, consoling family members when tragedy strikes, or tackling chronic alcohol-fueled crime, harm and violence, police are there for you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This often comes at a severe personal cost to them, and their families. 
What they face every single day is confronting and uncomfortable to hear – but that’s the reality. I have not even touched on the amount of times they are assaulted while carrying out these duties.
What’s a life worth when tiple-0 operators are overwhelmed with pleas for help from the public, yet the emergency call center doesn’t have enough staff?
According to the 2021-22 NT Police Fire and Emergency Services Annual Report: The Joint Emergency Services Call Centre (JESCC) “did not meet the 000 and 131 444 targets. This was primarily due to a large increase in the number of calls received.”
According to the report, there were 143,154 000 calls received, and 80.6% were answered within 10 seconds (down from 92.7% in 2020-21), while the 66.1% of the 160,236 131 444 calls received were answered within 20 seconds (down from 88.5% in 2020-21).

None of these statistics are the fault of the hard-working JESCC staff, who give their all.
What’s a life worth when our members who constantly respond to emergency situations suffer permanent psychological damage because of the horrors they’ve seen? Some police officers never recover.
In March of last year, a review into mental health and wellbeing support within the police department was completed, following successful lobbying from the NTPA.
We’re now almost 12 months on and yet to see how NTPFES will implement the recommendations or whether the NT Government will offer additional funding to ensure our members receive critical support services.

What’s a life worth when the people trying to save it are exhausted, under resourced and critically understaffed?
In August 2022, the NT Police Association undertook a survey of our 1600+ members which attracted 1,066 responses – our highest ever return rate for a survey of that nature.
Critically, 93 percent said there aren’t enough police to do the jobs expected of them, 80 percent rate morale within the NT Police Force as low or very low, and 80 percent did not have confidence in the Commissioner of Police.

These results show us members are struggling due to resourcing shortages, a result of shortchanging by the Government for many years in order to meet demand. This is evident given the rise in crime statistics over several years and a failure by Government to implement key recommendations from the last fully independent resourcing review into the NT Police, back in 2012.

Those survey figures are extraordinary and damning, yet we have seen no sense of urgency from the NT Government to address these concerns, or public statements from the Commissioner around requests to boost funding for NT Police. If the Commissioner needs additional resources, government must come to the table with funding. 

Our police deserve better – and so does the community of the Northern Territory.
Yet our members are still being told by Government they’re only worth a 2% wage policy position.
Government is dragging the chain on offering our members a pay rise which reflects the sacrifice they make for you, the community of the Northern Territory.
It’s been almost 12 months since negotiations started, and our members have been without a pay rise for more than 18 months.
The NT Police Force continues to hemorrhage officers as the attrition rate soars above 10 percent, and recruitment struggles to keep up with the mass exodus of officers. 
Our members tell us they love their job and they love the Territory, but why would they stay when they’re unsupported, undervalued and being offered such an insulting deal by the NT Government?
So, what’s a life worth?
How do you feel about the NT Labor Government putting a price on it?