Crims’ money used to help cops with PTSD, with new movie Dark Blue part of $6m campaign

Charles Miranda and Mark Morri, News Corp Australia Network

May 22, 2019 7:30pm

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Criminals will indirectly fund the police officers they taunt and traumatise, with the proceeds of their crimes to fund a movie, a book and a one-stop help centre to raise awareness of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder crisis in the ranks of first responders.

The Federal Government has released up to $6 million, largely from seized criminal assets, for various initiatives related to PTSD in police and other emergency workers.

Jeff Lang and Emma Beech are filmed in a police car for new movie Dark Blue, shining a light on PTSD. Picture: Supplied

Police Federation of Australia CEO Scott Weber said the irony would not be lost on the thousands of men and women suffering from the trauma they have to deal with every day, from rapes and murders to domestic violence, ice-addled assaults and road accidents.

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Last year, Beyond Blue highlighted the emergency in the ranks with its “Answering the Call” report drawing on a landmark national survey.

“Across the board it is the major issue, if not the most confronting issue, facing police, and a prime example of that is out of the Beyond Blue report, where it found police officers are three times more likely to have a suicide plan than anyone else in the general population,” Mr Weber said.

Actor and real-life cop Jeff Lang plays Grant Wood in Dark Blue, directed by Corey Piper. Picture: Supplied

“The general nature of policing is becoming more difficult, with the ongoing nature of policing and demands for them to be 24/7 universal problem solvers, to take on more than just policing roles, and the sheer and graphic amount of matters … it’s no longer the traumatic issues, it’s workload, capability of resources and (the) nature of the work is 10 times more difficult.

“From a Police Federation point of view, we are not only trying to reduce stigma, but increase awareness and that’s why we have gone down the path of things like a telemovie which comes out in July.”

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A “BlueHub” project will develop a national framework to deal with the crisis, which will include education initiatives, including a booklet, an online awareness campaign and a centre of excellence facility.

Actors Jeff Lang and Emma Beech in a scene with an angry motorist for Dark Blue. Picture: Supplied

The 45-minute Dark Blue drama stars actor and real-life South Australia Police officer Jeff Lang and Emma Beech and will be shown in cinemas nationally for a one-off release and later sold to a TV network. It features Lang as police officer Grant Wood, following him from police graduation through seven years of a confronting career.

Last June a groundbreaking “When Helping Hurts: PTSD in First Responders” report made 31 recommendations on detecting and improving PTSD outcomes for frontline responders.

That project, supported by the AFP, Victoria Police and NT Police and involving independent think tank Australia21 and charity FearLess Outreach, estimated three to four million Australians lived with PTSD or had family affected by it.

Former AFP commissioner and report co-author Mick Palmer said: “First responders run towards danger when others are running from it. We need to make sure we don’t meet the demands of the public and the politicians at the expense of our own people.” He said the chief recommendation to pursue was better training for senior managers to recognise early PTSD signs in their troops to prevent full-blown PTSD.