I want to talk about the Victoria police force, police forces across the country and particularly the growing stress that they have been dealing with, with matters such as we saw occur at the Parramatta Police Station, the Endeavour Hills Police Station in September last year and the attempt that was unravelled and prevented through the Anzac Day terror raids.
I was very interested to read a report in the Herald Sun that talked about 60 police officers around the nation who have died by suicide in the past decade, half of them using a service issued firearm. I was very disturbed to hear that police had the highest rate of suicide amongst emergency service workers and make up more than half of the deaths amongst first responders, which include firefighters and ambulance officers. I was pleased to see that the Police Association Victoria, led by secretary Ron Iddles, said:
Most of our members each day go and attend something which no other person in society would see, so I think some of those things have a lasting effect.
In this place there has been some discussion, particularly post the Parramatta shooting, about reaching out to a particular community. But there also has to be balance. The national discourse has to be balanced and reflect that our serving men and women in state, territory and federal police forces are at risk. When I meet with police officers down in my constituency, they are carrying guns—they have to—and they wear ballistic vests. The reason they do it is not made up. They do it because they fear they are going to be assassinated.
As I said, the first attack on police officers—a terrorist attack—occurred on 23 September last year. The aim and intent of the individual was to kill the two police officers and then, if that was successful, to move on and deal with others in the station. The second attempt on police officers was disrupted by the Anzac Day raids, and that was an attempt to run over a police officer, behead them and shoot people in the crowd. The third attack on police officers, which was successful, was the attack on Mr Cheng, who was assassinated out the front of the Parramatta Police Station.
We cannot have a debate in this place or elsewhere without acknowledging the brave men and women of the police forces and the work they do to keep our community safe. I have heard a lot of dialogue about reaching out to the community, which I support, but I want to see that matched in a national discourse about what we are doing to protect the men and women in our police force. Are we going to have a summit about that? That is what I think we need to do. There needs to be a balanced debate about protecting our protectors. So I say in this place that I remain committed to supporting the police men and women who serve us on the front line and keep us safe. I will do whatever I can in this place to keep them safe, to enable them to continue to protect our community.