For the first time in Australia, police veterans in Victoria will be recognised for their service through the introduction of a benefit card.
A new police Veteran Benefit Card has been launched to provide welfare support for Victoria Police officers once they have finished their career in policing, in recognition and appreciation of their service to the Victorian community.
Through this new initiative, Victoria Police veterans now have a physical connection to the broader policing family as well as having access to a range of concessions and benefits for various mental health and wellbeing services across Victoria.
The announcement comes on the one-year anniversary of the 2018 Head to Head Fundraising Walk which raised funds for police mental health.
Chief Commissioner of Police, Graham Ashton, said the funds raised during the walk had been used to professionalise the services provided to police veterans through the Retired Peer Support Officer program, which is now incorporated as Police Veteran Support Victoria (PVSV).
“Police Veteran Support Victoria has today launched the Veteran Benefit Card which is designed to fill a gap that currently exists for veteran police in terms of welfare and support. It also importantly helps police veterans to feel connected and enables them to reach out and access the support services when they need them.
“By improving access to a range of services and products, we aim to help police veterans manage their mental health and wellbeing – whether that be through health and fitness, lifestyle or family related activities,” CCP Ashton said.
“Exposure to trauma on the job is the reason some of our police struggle with their mental health, and we have a duty of care to them which doesn’t end once they hand in their badge.
“Once a police officer leaves our organisation, they are very much still a part of the Victoria Police family, and they should continue to receive our support.”
Chair of PVSV Board, Gerard Ryan, said all police veterans were eligible to apply for the card, with no minimum age or service requirement.
“The sad reality is that many police struggle with mental health and other welfare issues in some way or another during or after their career,” Mr Ryan said. “Veteran police can often find it difficult to reach out for support when fighting these battles.”
“Whether they’ve worked one day or one decade, every police veteran deserves our support in return for the service they’ve provided to the Victorian community.
“A number of retailers and companies have thrown their support behind this initiative to acknowledge and recognise our police veterans. We expect the number of businesses involved to grow over the coming years so that more support can be received by our veterans.”
The Veteran Benefit Card provides a range of discounts and benefits to veteran police from retailers such as Chemist Warehouse, Supreme and Leader Caravans, ClassPass, FitBit, e&s, Samsung, The Pancake Parlour and more.
This card has been developed by PVSV as part of a joint collaboration with Victoria Police, The Police Association and the Retired Police Association. BankVic and Lamplugh McIntosh Lawyers have also assisted in the development and production of the card.
By definition, a police veteran is a Victoria Police officer (including Protective Services Officer) who has left the organisation after at least one full day of service.