Motion: Women in Policing


Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 11:59 ): I will be brief because I know that many of the guests in the gallery have a very important morning tea to get to soon, which recognises the service that they have provided to the community of South Australia and to South Australia Police, for which we are all very grateful and of which they should rightfully be proud. I do, however, want to put a few things on the record.

I was the shadow police minister for 18 months and it was an honour and a privilege to spend time working in this area which is so critical to the daily lives of all South Australians and for which those serving officers provide such service to all South Australians. This extraordinary celebration of 100 years of women in South Australia Police is an issue I really enjoyed talking about on a number of occasions last year, and I will be brief today.

Some extraordinary facts and stories have come out today and I do want to pay credit to two women in the South Australian police force who have not been mentioned today. They are Chris Bettess and Patricia Higgs who, of course, wrote the book on it—To walk a fair beat: a history of the South Australian women police 1915-1987—the primary source from which many of the stories that are on the SAPOL website and other historical facts are taken.

As somebody who is quite interested in history, I have read a lot of South Australian histories and I would say that this is one of the best texts. It is worth every member taking the time to read it. I thank the Deputy Speaker who lent me her copy—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, I gave you one.

Mr GARDNER: You gave it to me—that was nice of you.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: So he would read it.

Mr GARDNER: In that case, I will not give it back. I thank the Deputy Speaker for giving me her copy, which I read a while ago, but there is also one in the parliamentary library and everyone should get it out and read it, because it is terrifically interesting and has a lot of that detail. I particularly acknowledge the member for Wright's speech which also provided her own primary source of material for the record, and it was probably the best contribution I have heard her make in this place, so thank you for that. I also thank Assistant Commissioner Bronwyn Killmier who was the person who put me onto the book in the first place.

On 7 May last year, a motion was passed in this house commending Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams on her significant career and her appointment as the first female deputy commissioner in South Australia. There was a significant debate then, and I encourage everyone to read the Hansard of that debate, which contained a great deal of useful historical information and the tribute of this house to women police at that stage.

In regard to Christine Bettess, I know that she still works for the South Australia Police Historical Society and there was a 'centenary of women in police' edition of Hue and Cry (the historical society's magazine) last year which, again, should be in the parliamentary and state libraries for anyone to have a look at. It has some terrific information. I pay tribute to Kate Cocks and Annie Ross, our first female police officers, Madeleine Glynn, our first assistant commissioner, and those assistant commissioners who have followed. I was very pleased to hear a bit more about Joyce Richardson from the member for Wright.

Last November when 400 of South Australia's 1,300 serving female police officers walked through the streets to commemorate 100 years of women in police in South Australia, Joyce Richardson, who served us from 1944 to 1979 and who had an extraordinary career, was there in her 90s, going strong. It was an honour and a privilege to meet her and spend five minutes talking to her about her experiences. There are so many trailblazers, so many women who have served throughout the history of the South Australian police of whom we can all be proud. They deserve recognition, so we are very pleased as a parliament to recognise that service today.