10 July 2023
The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) is demanding Acting Deputy Commissioner Michael White retract allegations NT police officers are ‘abusing’ unlimited sick leave provisions – or produce evidence.
NTPA President Nathan Finn said feedback from members is that chronic understaffing and under resourcing – which leads to exhaustion and burn out – is the major factor contributing to sick leave, not people rorting the system.
“The reality is everyone gets sick, but daily exposure to stressful, abusive, violent and traumatic incidents as well as working unsustainable levels of overtime is taking a toll on the overall wellbeing of our members, leading to physical and mental health concerns, making them more susceptible to illness and injury.
"That is why the NTPA lobbied for, and was successful in securing, unlimited sick leave for our members. It's not an abuse, if it's an entitlement.
"When you have members working 34 days in succession and 60 hours of overtime a fortnight, just to keep up with the day-to-day demands of policing, it’s little wonder they need sick leave to deal with exhaustion and burn out. On average, NT police officers are absent 18.6 days per annum. This is consistent with other jurisdictions, including Queensland Police, which average 18.8 days per annum – and has capped personal leave.
“During 2022 Consent Agreement (CA) negotiations, the NTPA’s claim for Safe Minimum Staffing levels - designed to support frontline members and reduce the amount of personal leave - was rejected by then-Commissioner of Police Jamie Chalker, and the Public Employment Commissioner, Vicki Telfer.
“We’re not naive to think that we don’t have individuals that may take advantage of the system from time to time, but to allege there is widespread, malicious, abuse of an industrial entitlement – without any proof – is insulting. It's quite astonishing that Acting Deputy Commissioner White appears to be admitting to the Coroner that there are delays in frontline responses to serious domestic violence incidents because of the mismanagement of sick leave by the Department.
“The attrition rate of the NT Police Force remains at 11 percent, recruitment is struggling to keep up, and in our February member poll, more than 97 percent of surveyed officers told us there aren’t enough police. For the Acting Deputy Commissioner to blame ‘abuse’ of sick leave for the strain on frontline resources is ludicrous. You can’t try and erode members’ entitlements because the system is broken.
“I have seen far too many members broken because of the system failures and the lack of understanding or empathy by members of the senior police executive and PFES HR. During CA negotiations these baseless claims around ‘abuse’ of sick leave were repeatedly made by the Department. The NTPA requested evidence to support the Department’s allegations, which were ignored,” said Mr Finn.
Please direct all media enquiries to NTPA Communications Officer, Kyrrie Blenkinsop +61 (0) 499 017 654 or email@example.com
The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) is the industrial voice of all members of the Northern Territory Police Force. Read more via www.ntpa.com.au or join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NTPoliceAssociation