The NSW government will pay student police officers more than $1300 a week for their 16 weeks of study as the state attempts to curb its shortage of police officers.
From March 2024, student police officers studying at the Goulburn Police Academy will earn a salary of about $30,984 over 16 weeks of study. The amount works out to be $1360 a week, plus superannuation, and about $380 in award-based allowances.
Recruits will continue to be employed as probationary constables once they graduate from the academy.
Current students from class 360, who started in May, will also receive a pro-rated scholarship, while recruits from class 361 will receive a $21,760 scholarship.
The announcements follows other states that are also offer policing students a salary. Queensland government gives recruits a gross fortnight amount of $1811.53, which is about 70 per cent of the base salary earned by a first year constable.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said it was a “game changer,” as the state’s force was suffering a shortfall of 1500 vacancies.
She said the salary would allow more students from low-income households, and mature age students with financial commitments – flagging in particular women with families – to consider a career with the force.
“Post Covid, recruitment in policing has suffered in Australia and across the world. Breaking down the barriers for people to leave one job and start with us without being financially disadvantaged is the most attractive incentive we’ve been able to offer for many years,” she said.
“I can’t think of a more exciting announcement for the NSW Police Force and it comes at a time when I know all our current hardworking, dedicated officers will be very relieved.”
Commissioner Webb said to was important for police wages in NSW to be competitive, to avoid prospective officers going to other statutes, such as Queensland.
“We will keep that as long as we need to we used to have it and 25 years ago, we stopped it but it’s time to revisit that. We need to be competitive,” she said.
“We don’t want people in NSW to be joining another law enforcement agency in Australia.”
Police Minister Yasmin Catley said it was a “historic day” for the NSW Police Force and hoped it would attract more people to the job.
She also thanked the Police Association of NSW for advocating for the reform.
“I’ve heard many stories of people wanting to change careers and join the NSW Police Force but who simply cannot afford to train for four months without income. I’m thrilled that’s about to change,” she said.
“This will be an enduring legacy of my time as minister and Karen’s as commissioner. We’re both very proud of it.”
Asked whether the government needed to do more to stop the attrition of NSW’s police force, NSW Premier Chris Minns acknowledged that while other states had “more generous schemes,” this was what the government could do right now to “make policing more attractive in NSW”.
“Our biggest commitment in terms of the people that work in emergency services in NSW was to lift the wages cap. That’s directly targeted for people that work currently in the NSW Police Force, and teachers in NSW public school, and nurses,” he said.
“That is exclusively about retention of the public service in NSW.”
Mr Minns issued a call for anyone considering joining NSW Police to apply.
“We owe a great debt of gratitude to NSW Police and this announcement makes it clear that the NSW Labor government backs our police officers 100 per cent,” he said.
“I’m committed to improving working conditions, stopping our frontline workers quitting and attracting more people to these vital roles – that’s why we are introducing this new incentive for future police officers.”