History of the RFPA

History of the RFPA

During most of the 20th Century, young men and women joining the NSW Police Force expected to remain a police officer for the remainder of their working life and retire on a superannuation pension at the age of 60.

In more recent years, the NSW Police Force appears to be a stepping stone to other careers. Many who disengage from policing are younger and go on to alternative employment, often utilising their learned skills and experience from policing. Some retain an interest in policing, and many re-engage socially at a later stage. Our numbers are increasing, albeit slowly, with those who either retire, disengage or re-engage. The interest in what happened during years of policing increases, and a desire to catch up with former colleagues is clearly a major reason for joining the RFPA.

Historically, those retiring after 30 or 40 years service wanted to keep in touch with their working colleagues and in 1931 the Retired Police Association of New South Wales was established, probably for this purpose. Unfortunately, the minutes of those early meetings have been lost over time, but we know that from those early times the association has grown into a large and efficient organisation with nearly 4,000 current members and 28 branches spread over New South Wales and Queensland. Our focus was widened to include all who had served as police officers in 2018, when the Association’s name was formally registered as the Retired and Former Police Association of NSW, to include those who did not formally ‘ retire’, but who had been honourably discharged at their instigation. These former colleagues then became eligible for Membership, and many have joined us.

Independently, all other states in Australia had the same idea and each state (and the Northern Territory) has its own Retired Police Association. All of these associations have a connection with each other and exchange ideas of mutual benefit whilst retaining their independence. On the 29th September 2006, being National Police Remembrance Day, the Police Memorial Wall in Canberra was dedicated and the executive of all the Retired Police Associations within Australia took the opportunity to meet in Canberra the following day and exchanged ideas and future hopes for their members.

The earliest retained minutes of our association are of the meeting held in February 1972. The President then was Don Telford and the Secretary was Ted Davis. Don was also a rugby union player who represented Australia from 1925 through to 1930. Don relinquished the presidency in 1976 to J. Munro. However, Mr Munro passed away suddenly shortly afterwards and Don accepted the position of President once again. In 1974 Ted Davis was the first member to be awarded Life Membership for outstanding service to the association. It is interesting to note that at the AGM in 1973 the annual dues were raised from $1 to $2 a year. (Currently the annual dues are $28.00).

In 1987, with Harry Rasmussen as President and Ted Davis as the Secretary, there was a motion to wind up the association because of a lack of attendance at formal meetings.

At that stage Ken Fitzpatrick was the secretary of the Associate’s Sydney Branch of the Police Association of NSW and had just been criticised for making representations directly to a government department without going through the Executive of the Police Association. Ken became the State Secretary of the Retired Police Association because this organisation was independent and he could see that his efforts to improve the conditions for retired police and police widows would not be as restricted. Ken’s skills and enthusiasm laid the foundations to enable this organisation to grow into the efficient and influential association that it is today.

In 1990 Ken used his skills as a lawyer to incorporate the association and was the author of our constitution. Due to the sudden demise of the President Dick Cox, Ken accepted the position of President at the 1990 AGM and Barry Hocking was elected as the secretary. It has been difficult to find volunteer to take on the State Secretary position, and as a result, some have taken on that task for a significant time. Over the years some of those who have led the organisation have been:–

President and Secretary

Don Telford Ted Davis

Harry Rasmussen Ted Davis

Ian Leeding             Dick Adams

Dick Cox                   Ken Fitzpatrick

Ken Fitzpatrick      Barry Hocking

Bob Day                    Barry Hocking

Paul Biscoe              George Weissel

Paul Biscoe              Barry Hocking

Paul Biscoe              Peter Rankin

Paul Wynne Ian Lovell

The association’s quarterly publication is the ‘RFPA Gazette’ and must take some of the credit for our success. During the late 1980s and the early 1990s, it was the responsibility of the State Secretary to publish a “Newsletter” when required to pass on to Members a record of the Association’s activities. In 1993 the Committee of Management decided that we should appoint a specialist editor. John Crockett, then Secretary of the South Coast Branch, volunteered and published quarterly “Newsletters” for 12 months, but had to relinquish this position due to the pressure of other commitments.

In 1994 Helen Magnus (now Armstrong), a retired police woman, was appointed as the editor. She was assisted by a committee consisting of Bob Day, Reg Armstrong and Barry Hocking. She introduced the woman’s touch and successfully edited the magazine for 10 years. Her influence laid the foundations for today’s gazette, ably refined by the editors who followed her, John Hamer, Tony Dunn and currently, Paul Wynne. Sponsored by the NSW Police Credit Union, now Police Bank since March 2004, the appearance and relevance of the RFPA Gazette has greatly improved. Constant feedback from our older colleagues tells us that the printed Gazette is a highlight and it is eagerly awaited. News of former colleagues and their gatherings and departures is important to the ‘old school’ Members and their families, and includes information provided as a courtesy about to those who didn’t join us, but still played a significant part in our working lives.

These days a small number of Branches still publish newsletters, but most have now taken advantage of available technology and the goodwill and industry of our Webmaster, former Committee of Management Member and Chair of the Northern Beaches Branch, Dave Whiteman. He manages our website [www.retiredpolice.com.au] and associated RFPA NSW Facebook groups as well as being our IT Administrator.

Each of the Branches elect their own executive and undertake social and welfare duties for their Members. All representations to government and other organisations for the improved conditions of retired police and police widows are made by the Committee of Management, with input from the branches. The Committee of Management consists of ten full members of the Association who are elected annually at the annual general meeting.

Over the years some of the improvements and benefits initiated by this association include:-

  • 1966 – active in gaining the police widow’s pension and in 1989 was successful in raising the minimum and obtaining annual pension increases in line with the CPI.
  • 1995 – convinced both the federal and state governments to reimburse retired members who had been overtaxed in their lump sum long service leave payments on retirement, in some cases amounting to thousands of dollars.
  • 1999 – convinced the state government to reclassify the police pension superannuation as a taxed fund to allow all members to claim the 15% taxation rebate.
  • 2007 – convinced the Minister for Police and the Commissioner of Police to backdate the award of the NSW Police Medal which allowed the medal to be awarded to retired police.
  • 2018 – became more inclusive by making ‘former’ police also eligible for membership of the Association.
  • 2022 – advocated for Police Overseas service to be formally recognised.
  • 2023 – assumed formal responsibility for certain Police Remembrance activities and assisted in greatly boosting some regional memorial events.
  • 2023 – arranged for the RFPA Gazette to be made available online within the NSW Police Intranet so that serving police and administrative staff could also retain a connection with former colleagues.

In this our 93rd year, with a number of improvements being pursued by way of representations by the Committee of Management, Members can be assured that the Retired and Former Police Association of NSW is under sound management with a bright future and one with which I am and we are honoured to be associated.

[Originally written by Life Member and former Secretary Barry HOCKING OAM and edited 2024 by CoM]

Barry Hocking OAM

(Life Member)