Policewomen inspiring change – Cairns First Responder

Tammy at left, on her academy graduation day

Tammy at left, on her academy graduation day

Senior Constable Tammy Fysh joined the Queensland Police Service in 2000 at a time in her life when she was a busy Mum to her then two year old son.

Tammy learnt to juggle a career and motherhood early on and upon completing training at the Oxley Academy in Brisbane, she then transferred North Brisbane Metro area where she spent some 12 years of her service performing first response uniform duties.

It was during this time that Tammy had two daughters to add to her brood. Her son is now 15 and daughters are aged 9 and 5.

She’s worked in a variety of sections over the years and performed relieving duties in the Forensic Crash Unit, Inquiries Office and Intelligence Section.

In December 2012, Tammy moved to Cairns with her family when her policeman husband landed his dream job in the Cairns Dog Squad.

Tammy packed up her family, donned the blue uniform and started first response duties, this time in Cairns.

First responders are the frontline of the QPS and the ones the community turns to in times of need.

On a daily basis officers attend a variety of incidents such as burglaries, stolen vehicles, noise complaints, fires, street disturbances, traffic incidents, assaults, deaths/suicides and domestic and family violence.

It doesn’t stop there though. Those first responders then have to back up, interview suspects, take reports, compile comprehensive briefs of evidence and attend to the numerous other computer indices and paperwork before their shifts done.

Officers work for their communities in an effort to make them a safer place to live, work and play for everyone.

During her career, Tammy’s taken on a number of leadership roles and has performed relieving duties as a shift supervisor at the rank of Acting Sergeant on and off over the past eight years.

Course presentation with Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett

Course presentation with Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett

In 2013 she attended the Dignitary Protection Course which consisted of intensive driver training, firearms and close personal protection training.

Whilst it was hard work, Tammy rates this course as one of the highlights of her career.

She’s managed to gain a wide range of new experiences and skills that she can use throughout her career.

Whilst her career has been very rewarding, she has had to dig deep during one particular period in her career after a number of high stress situations impacted on family responsibilities.

At this point, Tammy did actually question her role as a first response officer. After looking into a number of other specialty sections in an effort to find a good balance, Tammy’s love of first response policing and the support she received from her ‘police family’ saw her get through the difficult times.

Tammy at left helping a local school community event

Tammy at left helping at a local school event

Juggling family life and a career is something that Tammy believes is the same for all other working mums and doesn’t think her situation is any different. She said, “You learn to cope with whatever life throws your way.”

“Shift work can be beneficial to young families as long as management is supportive and flexible. Workplaces need to have family friendly policies which enable families to manage parenthood.

Most families, as it is with my case, have two working parents. We are in a very good position in that we are able to manage our shifts to look after our family.”  

Throughout her career, Tammy’s been ahead of the game to a certain degree. When she first returned to work from maternity leave she was required to negotiate her return to work agreement. She wanted to return to first response duties on a part time basis but still remain a shift worker.

In 2005 this type of request had never been negotiated before in her area.

Steely determination required

Steely determination required

She said, “Having that initial knock back didn’t stop me. I approached my boss and we were able to sit down and work out an agreement that suited all parties.

I was able to return to work, part time, doing shift work and back in my role as first responder.

It was a good fit for my family and obviously the QPS.”

Since that time, similar part time agreements have been entered into throughout the state for both mothers and fathers.

This sort of flexibility can only happen when senior management is flexible and those family friendly policies are in place.

Tammy wants to continue along her chosen career path and continue to supervise, support and manage junior officers in the first response role. Eventually Tammy hopes to branch out and become more involved in investigative work around child protection issues.

As a mentor, Tammy’s recommended policing as a career to many people over the years.

She says, “The opportunities are endless. I have enjoyed my time and there is always opportunity to develop further. The QPS has policies to enable a fair and equal working environment for all.

Sometimes, those policies have to be revisited, but if you contribute to the best of your ability and not take advantage, you will be accepted and respected among your peers and management.

This obviously allows for the successful progression of equality for women in the workforce.”

Sign up to the Far North myPolice blog to receive updates from your local police.