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Well Beyond Pilot Program - Helping members successfully transition into retirement. Another perspective.

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Emergency Services Foundation - Pilot Program and another perspective on leaving the organisation.

Sometime ago I was fortunate enough to be accepted to participate in a pilot program being run by the Emergency Services Foundation that was launched to help retiring members transition from the job successfully with the assistance of a trained well beyond coach. 

My initial interest in this program was driven by the lack of services in place to support our members whilst transitioning from a life long career to set them up for success with the appropriate resources and support. Leaving a job that you love is like losing a loved one. It’s like dealing with death. It’s not an easy thing to do for many people and any support that can be given to make this transition can only be a good thing.

Topics covered in the Well Beyond program include finance, cumulative trauma, social connection and purposefulness. The role of the coach is not to provide the answers to the coachee, but to assist in provoking thought about issues relating to the retirement that may previously have not been considered. 

Presently there are four coaches participating in the pilot program with more courses being rolled out in the future. Veterans from VicPol and Ambulance Victoria are taking part in the initial trial with the hope that other agencies will pick it up in the future. 

I believe that a program like this would have been helpful for me as I left the job into the unknown world of retirement with what felt like zero support from the agency. I had so many questions and so few answers so it is refreshing that something is being done to assist our people as they move in to retirement in the future. Things unfortunately aren’t going to change overnight but if we all keep pushing for it then it will happen. 

I think it is really disappointing that retired members feel like they are discarded by the organisation when they leave and so much more needs to be done to change this. As veterans, we are still valuable and whilst it takes time to accept that we are no longer in the job, it should not define us. Staying connected is so important and please don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call an old work mate. I do this regularly and whilst we don’t generally talk shop as a rule, we maintain that camaraderie and sense of belonging. There are times that I can’t stand the job and I have to pull away but there are other times that I miss the people. Not all of them, just the good ones… lol

Having purpose is really important for future growth and it would be great if the organisation did more to keep veterans connected. There is so much valuable experience that is simply let go as good people leave. All I have to say about this is what a waste! To those in the job, don’t forget about those who have retired. These people can give much more knowledge than you’ll read in any book. There is a massive pot of wisdom and experience out there and if you bother to take the time to remain connected you can benefit from it. 

I am going to publish this article written by Retired Chief Superintendent John Bodinnar APM with his permission as I think that it surmises how a lot of veterans feel. It’s not meant as a negative piece towards the job as John has told me that he wants things to be better. It’s a perspective that many of us share so take what you can from it and remember to look after your mates. Remember to be kind to each other, be respectful. 

The old saying that there is nothing more ex than an ex member is such a bullshit attitude and it’s so archaic. Be better than that! There will be a time that you will be an ex member and you will reap what you sow. Let’s make a change for the better. 

If you’re interested in becoming a coach with ESF to assist those members transitioning into retirement, contact Emergency Services Foundation and get on board. For further information on what ESF do and the well beyond Program, check out there website here

In the meantime, have a read of John’s article and think about what you can do to create positive change. Thank you to John for your honesty and perspective on something that affects so many of us. If any thing in this article causes distress, please reach out and seek help. Start a conversation.

Take care

SOME THOUGHTS ON BEING EX VIC POLICE    The often quoted truism, about policing in Victoria rings in my head often, “when you are in, you are right in, but when you are out, you are way out”.  Nothing is as ex as an ex member of VicPol, its almost as if “they - the ones still in want us to evaporate and disappear from the face of the earth. If it wasn’t for a few close friends who are also mostly ex, we would have no positive thoughts remaining about those wonderful, rewarding and totally committed years we each gave enthusiastically in community service. Not to mention the almost invaluable knowledge, networks, and experience gathered by each of us across the spectrum of policing that is over night deemed totally worthless and not worth even a phone call, much less a welfare check. Add to that the accumulated deleterious and even physical damage we suffered practicing the job we loved. I.e. car and motorcycle crashes in pursuits, years of shifts across the 24 hour spectrum and the associated crap food we had no option but to eat at all hours of the day, not to mention the daily stressors of dealing with aggressive and dumb perpetrators. Add to that the frustrations of working in a semi military disciplined organisation that from time to time sees fit to appoint some questionable misfits to high levels, permeating their area of responsibility with incompetence, confusion and lack of leadership. For every great boss I have had, there has been at least one dick head. Not bad odds really.

In my case, after 34 years of involved and credible service across all three operational Departments, that was deemed worthy of several CCP certificates, two medals including the APM, the only contact I have had with any serving member since I retired was a phone call from a “Cold Case Unit detective” regarding an unsolved case I was involved in. Even then, it was a very brief interaction and showed she had not read the file.  Additionally, despite being a very well publicised major crime, that still makes the news even today, it wasn’t worth a personal visit, just a 15 minute phone call, probably to justify her week day office hours involvement in a difficult case.

I know many retired members have similar views to mine, and along with negative feed back from some of our community friends, and other ex police members, it is no wonder we cringe, and change channels when we see a news cast showing some current Senior Officer usually an inexperienced import from another jurisdiction, blunder their embarrassing and unknowing way through a media conference. Not to forget the incompetent displays of gibbering idiocy and embarrassing silence at inquiries like the Lawyer X. Sigh.

If it wasn’t for a few ex mates, and a deep love of community, I would have been tempted to disown todays VicPol completely. What a catastrophic fall from grace it’s been, in just a few short years, from Australia’s most revered police force that exported many top level Command Officers to other States and overseas countries, to what it has become.  A politicised, untrained, poorly managed, haven for many questionable gender and suction generated political promotions that has seen it totally lose its way, and as a consequence wallow in massive Community loss of respect and confidence.

Such was the state of decay of policing in this State, that several dismayed ex senior Officers emerged from retirement to do what they could for the Victorian Community, and by definition for VicPol, itself, through change agent organisations like the CAA Inc. They brought impressive and credible police and community experience and developed strategies that were designed to help return policing in this State back in line with community expectations. Until recently, that has been without support of the police executive, even resistance in some cases.

But, it’s not easy to maintain the rage that this decline of VicPol generates when we are feather dusters (and not the once proud and effective peacocks that once strode the hallowed corridors of VicPol towers. Because when the dust settles and we reflect rationally somewhere in the sun, with a beer and a fishing rod for company, all the negativity fades into insignificance, and a smile emerges on our faces once more as we think positively and proudly of the work we once did to make our society safer for all. 

Finally, despite the comments above, I still love the organisation and it’s people, and know that eventually, one day, it will once again reign supreme as this country’s best and most respected and effective Police Force. I’ll do what I can to achieve this, and I know most ex members in here will too.

Oh and by the way, don’t forget who ultimately brought about the demise of our beloved Victoria Police Force and vote accordingly in November.

End of tirade, occasionally we all have to let it out.

John G Bodinnar APM
Rtd Chief Supt.


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