A record number of Western Australian officers are leaving the police force over mental health concerns and the strain on family life.
Last fiscal year, 340 police officers left the service, 60 of them in June alone.
“Our people have said enough, my mental health and family relationships are failing,” said Mick Kelly of the WA Police Union.
“They left because of a culture of senior executives who don’t care about the employees and the members, so it’s quite disturbing.”
Acting WA Prime Minister Roger Cook said the police are just one of many industries facing labor shortages, with many being lured into high paying mining jobs.
“We have an economy right now that is definitely booming and as a result you’re going to see a fluidity in the workforce,” Cook said.
But Kelly said mining wasn’t the reason more and more police officers were leaving.
The police union said only one of the 126 outgoing officers surveyed went to the resources sector.
Many instead cited reduced part-time opportunities and challenging five-day schedules as some of the police concerns.
More than 2,600 police officers reportedly sought mental health care last year.
The union said a group of police officers would attend a health workers’ strike in Perth on Wednesday to support a push for better wages in the public sector.
Union officials said they were not calling out their own union actions over negotiations for a five percent pay increase for the police.
Opposition police spokesman Peter Collier said officers face challenging situations on a daily basis and should be equipped with better support options.
“They go to situations, crime scenes, which are extremely confrontational,” he said.
“May I suggest to the Prime Minister that he come back from his trip abroad and come back to talk to the police at the coal mine?”
The state government is considering a push for foreign recruitment to fulfill a promise to hire 400 new officers.
But Kelly said it may not be enough to offset losses.
“There will be gaps because you just can’t recruit to cover the number left,” he said.