Since our Conference delegates last gathered, reflecting on how far we have come is essential.
At the 2022 PANSW Biennial Conference, delegates passed 42 motions and over the past 16 months, work has been underway on many of them. Providing crucial updates about those motions achieved through introducing or amending policies and programs and approving funding for new initiatives is important.
Resources and staffing
Delegates focused on the inability to backfill absences and the need for a relief pool of officers in addition to reviewing the model utilized by NSWPF, which is currently based on headcount/ SAP numbers as opposed to Full Time Equivalent, i.e., the percentage of positions actually filled in working hours by officers.
In October 2022, the PANSW and NSWPF negotiated the ‘Relief Pool’ concept. As of August 2023, a trial commenced in the North West, Western and Central Metropolitan regions.
The relief pool concept was developed in response to feedback from commands surrounding the need for greater leave and resource flexibility. Officers on reduced working hours or out of the workplace on parental/long-term leave can work additional hours on an ad hoc basis to enhance operation capacity. They can be contacted and utilized while on their paid leave to work the odd shift on the roster while being paid their leave entitlement. Subject to the trial review, further rollout is expected.
FTE percentage occupancy vs. headcount is a concept the PANSW has been pushing for some time. It focuses on converting the SAP numbers into hours being worked and enabling the backfilling of available hours not being filled. The PANSW will continue to work on this concept with NSWPF to allow greater ability to backfill positions filled with part-time hours.
Several Conference motions aimed to improve injury management practices and support and welfare services provided to police officers across NSW. With current injury rates at an alarming high, our officers must have access to the best possible support services and treatment. In November 2022, the then-Coalition Government announced $79 million in funding to be put towards the PULSE program – an initiative driven by the NSWPF to better look after sworn and unsworn members' physical and psychological well-being during each stage of their career. This includes mental health support in PACS, PDs, Specialist Commands, and early access treatment initiatives. The PANSW will continue to work with the NSWPF and Government to ensure that these programs are effective and lead to better recovery and return to work outcomes for our police officers.
The 2021 PANSW Conference delegates overwhelmingly advocated for improvements to attract and retain officers in remote and special remote locations. We have undertaken several surveys over the years and obtained member feedback to inform our negotiating position. In a major win for remote police, the PANSW has successfully negotiated significant increases to the incentive payments for officers in remote locations, special remote locations, and more. More officers were encouraged to go bush in July 2023 with the launch of the remote incentives package, which would see up to $36,000 in extra payments, removing onerous administrative processes to claim or access benefits, reductions in tenure, reclassification to increase remote and special remote location, subsidized housing and opportunities for career progression.
This included transitional payments to officers currently in these locations to recognize their service to those communities and is designed to retain officers in these areas.
For example, from 1 July 2023, an officer in a remote location will receive an $8,000 incentive in the first year. If the officer remains attached to that position for five years, the total incentive payment will reach $36,000. That is a significant increase on the previous $5,000 one-off payment, which could only be paid once, even if an officer moved to various remote/special remote locations during their service.
Officers already in remote/special remote locations transitioned onto the new incentives scheme from 1 July 2023.
Our members in these remote communities go above and beyond to protect and serve, often without access to additional policing resources available in our metropolitan PACS. This significant financial win will go a long way in attracting new officers to these communities and rewarding officers currently operating in our most regional remote communities, expanding their capacity and increasing workforce capability.
The current Award and Memorandum of Understanding was voted on by members and entered into in October 2021 for a 3-year period based on the 2.5% Public Sector Wages Policy in force at that time.
Since then, the PANSW has negotiated for a number of increases.
After lobbying that followed the 2022 Conference, it was confirmed that police would be given a 3% pay increase from 1 July 2022 (inclusive of superannuation).
The PANSW has continued to negotiate for additional pay increases for our members during the term of the current 3-year Award despite being in a no further claims period within the Award.
In November 2022, the PANSW successfully negotiated an additional 0.5% pay increase from 1 July 2023. This brought the 2023 pay increase to 3.5% (inclusive of the 0.5% superannuation increase). The additional 0.5% for 2023 was based on an agreement in relation to productivity enhancements by NSWPF in accordance with the NSW Public Sector Wages Policy.
In July 2023, it was announced that the PANSW had successfully negotiated a further increase, bringing your total pay increase to 4.5% inclusive of 0.5% superannuation.
In 2021, the PANSW achieved a three-year Award to ensure police officers had the security of the maximum available salary increases guaranteed, despite the economic challenges at the time.
With that guarantee in place, the PANSW has each year since secured additional salary increases above the amount locked in, ensuring that members had the security of guaranteed pay rises while also achieving the maximum pay rises possible in the public sector.
This brings the total increases during the current Award to:
- In 2023-24: a 4.5% pay rise, inclusive of 0.5% superannuation increase,
- In 2022-23: a 3% pay rise, inclusive of 0.5% superannuation increase,
- In 2021-22: a 2.5% pay rise, inclusive of 0.5% superannuation increase
Many motions at the 2022 Conference were passed by delegates relating to salary increases, allowances, fringe benefits, and pay scales including Sergeants and Leading Senior Constables.
In the lead-up to the 2023 NSW State Election, the NSW Premier committed to maintaining Workers' Compensation entitlements and the current Police Blue Ribbon Insurance benefits, which provides a vital safety net for our serving men and women in blue.
Our members risk being seriously injured or even killed every time they show up for duty. The ongoing delivery of this scheme is integral to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our police officers remain protected, now and in the future. The health and welfare of the most vulnerable members of our workforce has always been the Police Association of NSW’s biggest priority and this will never change.
Parental leave entitlements
Under the direction of the 2018, 2021 and 2022 Biennial Conferences, the PANSW engaged in securing better and fairer outcomes for working parents who are required to look after their children. Improvements were made in 2021 to extend the 14 weeks of parental leave to the other parent and other forms of care including altruistic surrogacy
Pre-term birth, miscarriage leave and fertility leave were also included in the improved conditions for parents recognizing the challenging times that parents can be faced when becoming a parent. The improvements secured with the NSW Government would expand access to parental leave to both parents. For children born after 1 October 2022, an additional two weeks bonus parental leave was announced, bringing the total leave for both parents to 16 weeks each. It is clear recognition as prompted by our delegates that the parenting responsibility rests with both parents of a child.
During this period, we’ve also negotiated a number of partnerships that provide additional benefits to our members.
In October 2022, we launched our partnership with CancerAid, which has rebranded as Osara Health. The programs were designed by doctors, oncologists, health coaches and researchers to help patients take control of their cancer care and assist caregivers in supporting them. The PANSW provides this service to our members and their families, which has received great feedback thus far.
In collaboration with Greyhounds As Pets, members receive priority access to adopt retired greyhounds as pet companion animals. This offer included pre-adoption vet servicing, six months of free dog food, six months of free pet insurance and post-adoption advice and support.
In 2021, the PANSW successfully lobbied and secured the Optional Disengagement Scheme. For years, our Conference delegates have advocated for a scheme allowing eligible police officers to pursue alternative careers or enter retirement in a dignified and supportive manner that recognizes their contribution to policing in NSW. It included financial payments and career transition support to assist members in transitioning to a new career, study, retirement, or simply building their life outside the organization.
The scheme launched in January 2022, with the second round seeing an oversubscription from police officers seeking to disengage. The third and final round is set to be completed in January 2024.
Delegates were very passionate about changes to ‘Blue Tape’ including the culture of duplications, working with poor technology and excessive nonessential tasks, which all need to be reviewed to allow police to return to their core activities.
The PANSW is heavily involved in several working parties with NSWPF, focusing on all areas of Blue Tape, including technology, equipment, policy amendments and legislation and will provide members with further updates as these progress.
Other motions relating to the Concessional Cap (which members have been updated on recently), equipment, the provision of training, uniforms, prisoner transport, promotions, injury management, DNA samples and parking/ tolls remain active and continue to be worked through.