Launch of the Australian Federal Police Specialist Response Group & Announcement of the expansion of the Overseas Service Medal

Today’s a big day for the AFP.

I’m here to launch the AFP’s Specialist Response Group.

And I’m here to announce a new honour for AFP officers.

First – the Specialist Response Group.

This has been formed by joining together ACT Policing’s Specialist Response and Security Team and the AFP’s Operational Response Group.

Together they become the largest specialist policing capability in Australia – with almost 2000 personnel.

The member of this group will be able to provide rapid assistance here in Canberra and – if needed – in other states around Australia.

They bring together elite policing capabilities, like:

  • Response to bomb and other terrorist threats;
  • Riot control;
  • Siege response;
  • Search and Rescue;
  • High Risk tactical response;
  • Police divers;
  • Specialist intelligence gathering; and
  • Police negotiators.

This group stands ready to offer support to other state and territory police forces, if needed.

They also stand ready to deploy internationally to assist other countries in our region at times of crisis:

  • To help restore law and order;
  • To provide rapid disaster assistance; and
  • To help improve the policing capabilities in developing countries.

The AFP has done this work for a long time through the International Deployment Group. They currently have officers serving in Afghanistan, Cyprus, Sudan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

The members of the Specialist Response Group are among the most elite police in the country.

To every member of this new team I say thank you.

For signing up to serve.

For working hard on your specialist skills and experience.

And for doing difficult and dangerous work here and overseas.

This brings me to the second reason I’m pleased to be here.

Today I’m announcing the expansion of the Police Overseas Service Medal to recognise officers involved in capacity building work overseas.

Previously, this medal has only been available to officers serving in peacekeeping roles.

The Police Overseas Service Medal will now be awarded to police serving overseas who train international police forces and help to secure our region.

The Queen has approved amendments extending recognition beyond officers involved in peacekeeping roles to those who have provided overseas service in capacity building roles including missions such as:

  • Afghanistan;
  • Bougainville;
  • Nauru;
  • Papua New Guinea;
  • Samoa;
  • Tonga;
  • Timor Leste; and
  • Vanuatu.

The amendments take effect immediately and are retrospective; meaning about 750 police officers will be eligible to receive the medal.

I’ve been to Afghanistan, Timor Leste, and Solomon Islands and I have seen the work the AFP is doing.

The difference we are making to the security of our region and of war-torn countries like Afghanistan. It deserves recognition and I’m proud that this Government has delivered.

We have also extended eligibility for this medal to the ‘Kiaps’ – the former Australian Members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary between 1949 and 1973.

There are around 2000 Australian ‘Kiaps’ who have sought recognition of their service through a community campaign to increase recognition and public awareness of the role they played in providing security and stability in our region.

The ‘Kiaps’ made a substantial contribution to the lives of Papua New Guineans during a formative period of PNG’s history and as Minister I’m very glad to be able to recognise their vital role.

I’d also like to acknowledge the work of Senator the Hon Kate Lundy and Senator the Hon Jan McLucas, the former and current Parliamentary Secretaries to the Prime Minister and Scott Morrison, the Member for Cook. They have played a very important role in ensuring these important changes.

This is an important day.

One that sets us up for the future and recognises and honours our past.

It is an honour for me to be part of it.

Thank you very much.