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No Justice for Unvaccinated Cops

No Justice for Unvaccinated Cops


Two years after the Covid mandates ended, the West Australian Police Force has fired nearly twenty unvaccinated police officers and public servants for refusing to get the jabs. 

A legal challenge against the mandates, brought by WA Police officer Ben Falconer and staff member Les Finlay, had previously secured an injunction preventing the force from firing unvaccinated staff until the matter had been settled in the courts. 

However, a Supreme Court ruling that then-WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson’s Covid vaccination directive was “valid and lawful” brought an end to the injunction in April. WA Police announced the resumption of disciplinary action against 17 affected employees immediately after the hearing, with all 12 police officers and five staff having now been sacked. 

Falconer was the last to be formally notified of his dismissal, today, for disobeying the Commissioner’s vaccination directive. Despite no prior history of disobedience, Falconer refused the jabs due to his concerns over the safety and efficacy of the Covid vaccines, and the way in which mandates violated the bodily integrity of officers and staff. 

Source: X

While Deputy Commissioner Allan Adams said that Falconer’s dismissal was “regretful,” Falconer maintains that refusing Covid vaccination is the “best decision I’ve ever made.” Falconer, a Senior Constable who served in the force for 15 years, says that the sacked police officers had over 150 years of policing experience combined.

The firings come amid staffing shortages and low morale, with WA Police turning to overseas recruitment to prop up its frontline forces. 

In April this year, it was reported that WA Police was well short of its target of recruiting 950 new front-line officers by mid-year, with only 450-500 having signed on. 

Opposition leader Libby Mettam (Liberal) said that in the past four years, there has been a “mass exodus of police with nearly 1000 officers resigning” from the roughly 7,000-strong force.

Police Commissioner Col Blanch admitted that the force saw a “significant” reduction in police numbers after the Covid pandemic, with 570 officers leaving the force in 2022 of which 473 resignations and 97 retirements. 

WA Police was asked to provide comment along with up-to-date recruitment, resignation, and retirement figures, but did not respond prior to publication deadline. 

The Labor Government has blamed market forces for WA Police’s struggles with retention and recruitment; however, survey data collected by the WA Police Union in 2022 showed that 77% of staff exiting the force claim poor work culture and dissatisfaction with management as their reasons for quitting. 

Another Union survey of members conducted in 2022 found that morale in the force is at an “all-time-low,” with almost two-thirds (64.6%) of respondents describing morale as “poor.” This is more than double the 28.2% who said the same in the last poll, in 2017. None of the 1,966 respondents described morale as “excellent.” 

A majority of respondents complained that their workload had increased, and half or more complained of fatigue, management problems, unpaid overtime, and rostering issues. 

Nearly three quarters (71.4%) of respondents said they’d used the WA Police mental health services, with 36.6% of service users reporting their experience was “very negative” or “negative.”

Public sector census data obtained under Freedom of Information by the Liberal opposition showed that in 2023, less than half (47.1%) would recommend their agency as a workplace, compared to almost 70% for the public sector overall.

Some of this discontent appears to be driven by the force’s Covid response. In an unauthorised survey of WA Police staff initiated by former officer Jordan McDonald, who resigned over vaccine mandates, employees said they felt “bullied” into getting vaccinated and complained about resources being diverted away from traditional policing towards the state’s Covid response.

In 2022, WA Police began an international recruitment drive to fill vacant front-line positions, with the aim of recruiting 750 officers from the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and New Zealand over a five-year period.  WA Police has also been creative with its recruitment campaign at home, appealing to lonely hearts on hookup app Tinder. 

A WA Police Force ad on Tinder

The WA Police Union said it supports the overseas recruitment drive but characterised it as a “band-aid solution.” 

“It’s only a matter of time before these new recruits obtain permanent residency and become familiar with the many cultural and organisational issues in WA Police,” the Union said in a media statement.

The WA Police Union was approached by unvaccinated members for assistance with their industrial action resisting the mandates, but Falconer, who was a member, says the Union’s response was “hostile.” The Union also declined to provide information and comment for this article. 

Unvaccinated WA Police staff had been on paid leave since the Covid vaccine mandate came into effect in December 2021 until their recent dismissals, an arrangement that Falconer has called “fiscally irresponsible.”

In an essay posted to social media platform X, Falconer said that the South Australian Police Force responded to the situation better. Unvaccinated SA Police officers were allowed to use accrued leave until the mandates dropped, after which they were allowed back to work “without ever being stood down and no disciplinary action taken whatsoever,” he said.

“I could have been back at work from June 2022 [when the mandates were dropped] and there were plenty of administrative tasks that could have been done with remote access to police systems if allowed to work from home,” said Falconer, who said he informed WA Police more than 30 times of his willingness to return to work.

Ben Falconer on the job in the West Australian Wheatbelt. Image: Supplied.

Former police officer of 27 years Lance French, who was also fired this month for not complying with the Police Commissioner’s 2021 Covid vaccination directive, said that he too had informed WA Police numerous times that he wanted to return to work since the mandates were dropped.

Now that his two-and-a-half-year legal fight has come to an end, Falconer said that he will take some time out to consider his next career move. 

French expressed gratitude for the support of his wife, family, and colleagues, opining on social media that while “the trajectory we are heading (as a society) is not good,” he was appreciative for “the legislative and judicial structures enabling our lawful challenge of Commissioner Dawson’s… draconian order to undergo a medical procedure.”

Former Senior Constable Lance French served in the WA Police Force for 27 years. Image: Supplied

WA Police officers and staff are not the only Australian workers still experiencing repercussions from the Covid mandates, even after most of the public have well and truly moved on.

In January of this year, Queensland Health was criticised for continuing to discipline and fire healthcare workers for failing to comply with vaccination directives issued in late 2021. 

More than 50 unvaccinated firefighters remain banned from returning to work in Victoria despite critical staffing shortages, and mandates remain in place for some nurses, midwives, and doctors around the country.

The Australian state and territory governments’ coercive Covid vaccination mandates have come under fire recently with AstraZeneca’s admission that its vaccine can cause deadly blood clots and with mounting vaccine injury claims

Mandates and other Covid policies will be investigated in a 7News Spotlight special this Sunday evening. 

Republished from the author’s Substack

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  • Rebekah Barnett

    Rebekah Barnett is a Brownstone Institute fellow, independent journalist and advocate for Australians injured by the Covid vaccines. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of Western Australia, and writes for her Substack, Dystopian Down Under.

    View all posts

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