Yesterday your union met with the AFP operational safety team about the proposed role out of new safety vests. The CPSU has been involved in this process since the beginning and it’s important the new vests are suitable and fit for the work that you do.
The AFP intends to proceed with a trial of two new vest options in response to the safety issues and discomfort caused by the current BSRV. In addition, the current policy is also being evaluated.
Where are we up to?
The AFP will conduct a trial, selecting 38 PSOs across Australia who perform a variety of tasks. There will be a gender split of participants with participants trialling each vest for two weeks. The trial is likely to begin in February and last for 4 weeks. After the trial period, functional testing of both vests will be carried out in Canberra.
What do we know about the vests?
- Both vest options are significantly lighter than the current BSRV.
- The inside of the vests contains a weave material to encourage air flow.
- Both vests have removable side plates for comfort.
- One option has 27 sizing options and both options will be fitted individually to participants by the company allowing customisations to be made when necessary.
- One option has no soft body armour in the back and instead has a removable back armour that can be attached. This is so that the vest is more comfortable to wear whilst sitting. The other design will also likely be altered to include this feature.
- Both vests have attachable long pouches with removable plates for the use of long arms.
- Both companies also have prototype covert vests that are lighter and made of breathable fabric in comparison to the old model.
And the policy?
In addition to the new vests, the AFP is reviewing the current policy in relation to wearing the vests. The review will explore two policy options, mandatory or discretionary wear. This will explore any legal risk to officers individually or the AFP itself posed by a discretionary policy. The review into discretionary wear will look at officers’ different duties, location, temperature and possible risks or threats.
What happens next?
The vest changes and potential policy changes are in large part due to the advocacy of CPSU members who have raised their concerns about the physical impacts of the BSRVs. We are going to be involved in this every step of the way!
The CPSU will continue to push for the implementation of a discretionary vest policy that protects officers from potential threats and also addresses the unacceptable level of injury and discomfort caused by the current vests. It has been a long road to get to this stage, but it is because of active members like you that we have been able to push this so far.
How can I help?
Are you keen and interested in this issue? We would love some people to put their hands up to be involved in this and be a CPSU contact as we continue to get more information.
You have some fantastic hard-working delegates and Paul Duffin has done incredible work as the CPSU rep on the BSRV working group. But we would always love more people to be involved and join the team. Let us know if this is something that interests you.
If you have any questions or comments let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in unity
Brooke Muscat CPSU Team Leader, AFP