Looking After You – Day In/Day Out

Recently I was privileged to be invited to participate in a Community Awareness of Policing Program (CAPP) where “Community leaders walk in police shoes” – literally! Well, almost!

From the evening of 22nd October to the afternoon of 24th October 2015 I joined 23 other unsuspecting participants, whom I had (mostly) never met before, for a weekend of challenges and experiences that have given me an even greater appreciation for the men and women who make up our NSW Police Force.

After being delivered, warmly welcomed, given a tour of the facility and settled into our accommodations at the PLC (aka Police Leadership Centre) we ventured to dinner and the inevitable “get to know you” first meeting.

Day one saw us breakfasting at 6 am in readiness for the start of our first 12 hour ‘shift’ with visits to:

  • PORS (the Public Order and Riot Squad) – if you happen to be protesting somewhere and you see the water cannon approaching, my advice would be to run like hell!
  • MAC (Marine Area Command) where we scribbled details of a ‘crime’ we witnessed in our little blue notebooks, negotiated a successful conclusion to an attempted suicide, participated in a search and rescue scenario involving an upturned yacht and missing crew and watched in amazement as the k-9 crew sniffed out the feral nun trying to smuggle drugs!

Tany blog 1All before dinner and a presentation by Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin of Strike Force Tuno that provided some interesting insights and follow up on one of the state’s biggest criminal investigations into the murder of Terry Falconer.

The coffee machine was working overtime by 6:10 am on day two before we set off on our own Police Academy adventure in Goulburn. After being kitted out with our gun belts (try getting in and out of a police car whilst wearing this little fashion statement!) and calling in a mock police pursuit we tested out the skid pan to see what not to do in a tricky situation. I have to confess (sir) I owe the NSW Police about 5 new witch’s hats …

Next to the TOU or Tactical Operations Unit (for the uninitiated) where we donned some ear and eye protection (PPE) to witness an amazing display of skill, including being rescued from a (mock) hostage situation.

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Tanya with Tracy Howe, CEO of National Council of Social Service

To add to our heightened levels of excitement we then visited the SPAC (Simulated Patrol Assessment Centre) to evict an intoxicated patron and the Virtra Facility for some weapons training, including discussions on all the equipment a police officer has at his/her disposal and the split-second decisions that sometimes have to be made about which one to use. After a Taser display and some dodgy decisions in the entry and search scenarios we were able to watch the Police Academy’s version of Saturday afternoon sport – a mock riot through the grounds!

Dinner that night included presentation of certificates by the Commissioner of Police, Andrew Scipione APM and the opportunity to wind down a little, for those who were still awake!

tanya blog 3On Sunday we were allowed a sleep-in with breakfast scheduled for 6:30 am – woohoo! And what else does one do on a sunny Sunday during a CAPP weekend … hang out with the experts at the FSG (Forensic Services Group) of course! After dressing appropriately we received tuition from the real “CSI’s” on the latest in scientific techniques used to discover the how, what and who of a crime scene and visited the ballistics guys for a live demo, spot the fake gun test, a look at the technology available for matching weapons/ammunition to other crimes and a teeny glimpse at the mind boggling array of weaponry confiscated/seized/handed in over time.

Are you worn out? Well wake up because we haven’t finished yet!

A discussion about initiatives within the force to equip officers with the skills necessary to cope with the marked increase in call-outs involving people with mental health issues. Alarmingly many of these as a result of drug use – USE, as well as ABUSE.

VKG is where we found the cool, calm and collected people who will speak quietly and efficiently to you in an emergency, whilst coordinating the many facets of a response; what an eye-opener that was!

The POC (Police Operations Centre) gave us an idea of how major operations and events are dealt with and by whom.

Finally; remember on the first day we had to record what we saw during a mock crime? Well some of our Sunday afternoon was spent watching two of our cohort being “grilled” on the witness stand in relation to the events two days prior. We all agreed that remembering the detail was difficult enough after two days, let alone some months, which is often the case in real life.

Now, whilst I have used a lot of words making light of our experiences, I cannot find enough words to explain just how inspiring, enlightening, encouraging and humbling the whole weekend was.

At every session we were greeted and briefed by the operational and specialist police leading their respective units and given the opportunity to speak to individual members of each team, ask questions, inspect the equipment they use and even try some on. What we found, repeatedly, was passion, commitment and dedication. People who actually enjoy going to work and with an attrition rate of just 3% leaving the force, it was clearly not just a ‘show’ for us over the three days nor was it a product of our overworked imaginations.

Was it tiring? Yes, but as Deputy Commissioner Burn kept reminding me, 12 hour shifts are the norm for our protectors in the “double blues”.

One more acronym before I let you go – a LAC is your Local Area Command.

Did you know some LAC’s host their own (one shift) CAPP?

Media Release

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What’s in a Name?

Last week CWA of NSW (finally) became the new owners of 244 Coward Street, Mascot.

The building was completed in 2009 and presents a fresh and contemporary ‘face’ for The Country Women’s Association of NSW. The design of our interior spaces, whilst being functional and purpose built, will also provide a glimpse into our past and the design team have done a fantastic job of not only incorporating our memorabilia but giving some things a ‘little tweak’ and a modern twist! I am truly impatient and excited to see how it will all look.

Mascot building

BTW – there is a little landscaped ‘park’ area at the front of the building which is called “The Nancy Bird Walton Park” – fitting for us don’t you think?

This week’s blog is about the origins of Coward Street Mascot and was written by guest blogger Katherine Greatrex, from our Kendall Branch, whom I met during a tour of the Mid-North Coast Group earlier this year.

I hope you find her story as interesting as I did:

Before 1870, North Botany consisted largely of sandy patches swamps and market gardens.

In the 1938 Jubilee year celebrations, 50 years after North Botany became the municipality of Mascot, a report was given to those in attendance that Mascot is at present an attractive residential and manufacturing suburb within easy reach of Sydney Central Post Office (three and a half miles on admirable roads) and with efficient train and bus service.

The pioneering Alderman in 1888, a 15 man team, elected James Coward as their first Mayor of the new Municipality of Mascot.

James Coward was a very old resident of North Botany and took a most prominent part in its incorporation, being chairman of the committee. His election as first mayor was unanimous.

James Coward 7

He was a most energetic man and did a lot for the Municipality during his three year term as Mayor.

So members we have CWA State Office in a street named after a much esteemed citizen in James Coward.

James Coward was born in 1830 at Doulting near Shepton Mallet in the County of Somerset, England. He arrived in Australia in 1858, died 1912 at Mascot. He was one of the first Dairymen in the district of Botany and carried the cans of milk attached to a yoke over his shoulders (as did most dairymen at that time) to take the milk to Redfern for sale. It is not recorded if they did two trips a day.

There were also orchards and market gardens, potatoes gave heavy yields, 24 tons to the acre. When the Goldfields opened up a ton of potatoes rose to 20 pounds, a ton. There were also several piggeries.

A plant nursery was established, as was a mill near the water works. As we all know when we have travelled in the past years through Botany to Mascot airport there used to be Glue factories and Tanneries at Botany, they were started in the late 1870s. Most of them have now gone.

Mascot was so named after Ascot race course at Epsom, Surrey, England where the famous Derby horse race is run in early June each year. There was a race course where the airport is now.

Challenges and Rewards

So, the annual wheat harvest has started again and as Murphy’s Law would have it, so have the storms. Barely a spot for months and as soon as we kick the big green machine into gear, up come the threatening clouds to add a little more stress and urgency to the situation.

It’s not all doom and gloom and we are thankful that we at least have something to harvest, albeit a bit sad looking compared to the possibilities had there been a little more precipitation throughout the year.

wheat 3

Although tiring I think the boys love the “hustle and bustle” of getting the crop off, meeting the self-imposed deadlines and putting in long hours for a short time. Emma tells me she loves being on the header or tractor at night during the busy times of sowing or harvesting because (among other things) the twinkling lights in the paddocks of our neighbours make her feel part of an alternate community instead of isolation, in the middle of nowhere, late at night.

Also as luck (or Murphy) would have it, harvest arrived earlier than usual, so my best laid plans for keeping the diary free over the busiest time in a farmer’s calendar have gone awry and this little black duck is at risk of becoming the black sheep of the family.  Luckily I have a couple of really good backstops in Jeff’s mum, Margie and Josh’s girlfriend, Roz. One has extensive experience in harvest havoc management, the other will learn quickly.

Just to digress on one of my tangents; did you know there is a website dedicated to the explanation and origins of Murphy’s Law? No? Well, there you go; you’ve learnt something new for the day!

My departure at this critical time was met with some concern, but generally the troops were quite pragmatic, although I don’t imagine I will want to repeat the same error in judgement next year. By then though I will be back to just being Tanya Cameron, partner in a mixed farming business, instead of gallivanting around the countryside as Tanya Cameron, State President of CWA of NSW.

I’ve enjoyed my time as the latter, but look forward to resuming my role as the former.

It’s good to get out of your comfort zone and test yourself – perhaps that’s part of what farmer’s enjoy about harvest; challenging and rewarding at the same time.

What will be your challenge for the coming year?