History

The history of women in the NSW Police Force 

1915 - 1965  1965 - 2015

1915 - 1965

 

1915
New South Wales Police Department advertised two positions for female police.  Nearly 500 women applied for the position. Two applicants, Lillian Armfield and Maude Rhodes were chosen and subsequently sworn in as Probationary Special Constables.  Maude Rhodes resigned in 1920 and Lillian Armfield retired after 33 years service in 1949.  The women were required to sign an indemnity releasing the Police Department of any responsibility for their safety and wore civilian clothes, as they were not issued a uniform. Their service was recorded on a separate seniority list until 1965.  They were the first women employed for police duties in the Commonwealth.

1919
Mary Paulett recruited.  Lillian Armfield promoted to Special Constable First Class.

1920
Maude Rhodes resigns.

1921
Nellie Mooney recruited. Police Association is formed.

1922
Strength increased to four women with the recruitment of Nellie Kathleen Mitchell.

1924
The use of wireless with Morse Code as the means of communication was introduced into a number of police vehicles.

1925
Ursula Freda Meenaghan appointed as first female shorthand-writer and typist to Police Department.

1927
Mary Madden recruited. The main base wireless station in Sydney became known by the call sign VKG.

1929
Strength increased to eight women police with the recruitment of Ellen Bennett, Rose Cuneen and Eva Rosser. 

1932

Margaret Jeffrey joined the Police as a Special Constable, and remained in the job for 24 years.  

1941
As a result of wartime difficulties in recruiting men, there was a further increase in strength from eight to fourteen women police.  Over 500 women responded to advertisements for policewomen.  Six women were selected: Rita Collins, Coralie Lucas, Catherine McRae, Nancy Morgan, Ita Taylor and Joan Weaver (who would later become Officer in Charge of the Women Police Office).

Two Policewomen: Rita Collins and Eva Rosser transferred to Newcastle.

1943
Six women temporarily recruited to aid the Health Department locate people suffering from venereal disease.

1945
In 1945, Special Constables were introduced to regulate parking in Sydney. The Parking Police (also known firstly as "Brown Bombers" and later "Grey Ghosts" from their various uniforms) positions were originally reserved for disabled ex-servicemen.

1946
Premier McKell approves increase in strength of women police to thirty six.  Women that had been employed temporarily were made permanent employees.

1947
Twenty six years after the formation of the Police Association, women police are granted membership as Special Constables.  Special Sergeant (First Class) Lillian Armfield awarded the Kings Police and Fire Service Medal for distinguished service, the first woman in the British Empire to receive this distinction.

First female Office Assistants Mary Honora Batch, Marie Joan Bergin and Joyce Marie Quinn appointed to Police Department on 1 November.  

1948
Commissioner McKay trials two women, Amy Millgate and Gladys Johnson, at the Traffic Branch.  The women develop their own uniform, based on military uniform with a male police cap.

1949
There were now thirty one women in the Women Police Office.  Twelve women were transferred into the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB), four to divisions and others to traffic.  Lillian Armfield retires as Special Sergeant First Class, receiving no remuneration on retirement.

1950
First Junior Clerk, Rosie Hazel Cumines, and first female Clerk, Joyce Elizabeth Shaw, appointed on 15 May to Administration and Correspondence. 

1951
School Lecturing Branch formed under the Traffic Branch.  All women recruits now commence at the Traffic Branch, then move into plainclothes work as vacancies arise.

1955
Two women police, Patricia Stuart and Joan Banner, transferred to Wollongong.

1957
First migrant woman, Joanna Suchy, was recruited.  First certified woman police driver, Special Constable Patricia Clancy.

1958
Fifty women in NSW Police Force.  For the first time, the two women from the class of 1958, Janice Mossfield and Noellie Hobart are permitted to participate in the passing out parade with their 53 male counterparts.

1959
Women police undertake initial, intermediate and secondary training conducted alongside male counterparts, but this did not include any physical training, swimming or pistol practice. The design of the current insignia for the NSW Police Force was adopted in 1959. The Latin motto ‘Culpam poena premit comes’ translates as ‘Punishment swiftly follows crime’. The insignia was not used on the Police uniform until 1972

1961
Departmental decision taken to permit women to remain in employment by the NSW Police Department after marriage.

1962
Centenary of the New South Wales Police Force. 

1964
Marilyn Walton joins New South Wales Police Force on 17 August (and retired June 2002). Marilyn was one of the oldest long serving clerical officers in the Force. 

1965
58 women of various ranks sworn into the New South Wales Police Force as regular officers (under the Police Regulation Women Police Amendment Act No. 64 or 1964) with full police powers, other employment conditions and entitlements.  Women police given separate registered numbers to male police, establishing a separate seniority system for women police.  Alice Elizabeth Hanley given the registered number 3. Women police now known as Policewoman in place of Special.  This came about on the 18th March, 1965.

50 Years of women being employed in the New South Wales Police Force undertaking policing duties.

1966 - 2015

 

1966
Del Fricker and a number of policewomen commended by the Commissioner for their role in the apprehension of two armed offenders, Ronald Ryan and Peter Walker who were wanted for escaping from lawful custody and murder.

1967
Del Fricker receives British Empire Medal for her involvement in the 1963 arrest of a violent offender wanted for rape.

1968
NSW Police Force now employs 70 female ‘special constables’.

1970
Three women police, Senior Constables Nerida Keeley, Gwen Martin and Jill Frazer obtain their Diploma in Criminology from Sydney University.  Del Fricker is awarded the WD & HO Wills Trophy for most outstanding Policewoman.
The first intake of female clerks occurred in January. Lesley Ann White commenced at the Ballistics Unit, Forensics Unit in the old Criminal Investigations Branch. 

1971
Del Fricker and Gwen Martin accepted into the Detectives Training Course, later to become the first women detectives.  Policewomen lobby the NSW Police Association for more direct representation to improve their position within the Police Force through the establishment of a Women’s Branch but are rejected.  Lillian Armfield dies aged 87 years.
Robyn Hargrave joins the NSWPF as a Class B Clerk in the Lismore District. Now the Local Area Manager of Shoalhaven LAC,  Robyn is one of the longest serving female clerks in the Force.

1972
First female Commissioned Officer at the Women Police Office, Inspector Alice Elizabeth (Beth) Hanley, at 29 years service.  Beth Hanley is awarded the ‘Most Outstanding Policewoman’.
A new style police uniform is introduced which featured the police insignia on the shoulder flash and the Sillitoe Tartan (chequered band) on the cap.  This uniform remains as the service dress uniform of today.

1973
Gwen Martin is awarded the ‘Most Outstanding Policewoman’.  A women’s branch is established within the NSW Police Association.  Del Fricker is the inaugural President and Carol Tubnor inaugural Secretary.
Doreen Peters joins as the first Aboriginal female employed by the NSWPF and the first Aboriginal Public Servant. Doreen retired on 16 June 2011 after serving 38 years with the Police. 

1974
Policewomen become eligible by statute to sit for promotional examinations.  Policewomen Barbara Galvin and Jacqueline Milledge transferred on probation to the Police Prosecuting Branch.  Women detectives issued with firearms.
Major Event: Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin and NSW Police form part of the emergency contingent responding to the disaster.

1975
Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, 60 years of Women in Policing.  Communication to Commissioner Hanson from the Premier that the NSW Police Force will be required to comply with the International Labour Organisation Covenant signed by the Commonwealth.  The Commissioner established a committee to examine aspects of this covenant, which aimed at discouraging discrimination especially in relation to women.  The committee reported back to the Commissioner in 1976, recommending and reinforcing status quo.  Maternity Leave granted by the Premier of NSW to policewomen after strong campaigning by the NSW Police Association on behalf of women police.  Policewoman Dianne Bennett (Gould) was the first woman to receive maternity leave benefits (back dated). 

The NSW Police Association successfully proposes to the Commissioner that policewomen be integrated into the promotional system. 

Handcuffs issued to policewomen.  First policewoman attached to the Scientific Investigation Section, Cathy Brown.  Del Fricker promoted to Detective Inspector Third Class.

1976
Beth Hanley awarded the Queen’s Police Medal.  Four women transferred to general duties on trial basis: Claire Britton to Mascot Airport police, Christine Nixon, Christine Ridley and Margaret White to Darlinghurst Police Station.  Newly sworn policewomen were provided with integrated registered numbers.  Inspector Del Fricker appointed Officer in Charge, Women Police Office.

1977
NSW Parliament passes the Anti-Discrimination Act.  Del Fricker awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal.  Major Event: Granville Train disaster.

1978
112 women police in the NSW Police Force.  Women’s Co-ordination Unit report to the Premier, ‘The employment position of women police in New South Wales Police Force’ blasts the departmental committee report position of women in policing and recommends better training, integration and affirmative action for women in policing.  Commencement of integration into male ranks for all non-commissioned officers.  Women integrated in the seniority list (Completed in 1981).

Major Event: A bomb blast outside the Sydney Hilton Hotel at the CHOGM

1979
Firearms become standard issue for all policewomen.  Gwen Martin is the first female appointed to the Executive of the NSW Police Association.  Jill Frazer is awarded ‘Policewoman of the Year’ for bravery when assaulted whilst arresting an offender which ultimately resulted in the amputation of her left leg and her subsequent death.  Women provided with the same training as men, same selection criteria for Detectives Training Course.

1980
Both the quota system for female officers and the policy of non-acceptance of married women were abolished from the NSW Police Force following a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Board by Virginia Carr.

First policewoman attached to the Police Air Wing as an observer, Constable Christine Simpson. First policewoman appointed to the Highway Patrol, Constable Jennifer Sheehy in December at Goulburn (country).

Linda Ebsworth commenced duty at Bourke as the first female Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer (ACLO) appointed. 

1981
Disbanding of Women Police Office at CIB. Classification of Woman Police Officer removed and women were transferred to a variety of duties.  Women’s Branch of the Police Association abolished.  Second policewomen appointed to the Highway Patrol, Constable Julie Richardson (metropolitan). Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Branch established at PHQ.

1982
Now 307 women officers in the NSW Police Force, representing 3.3% of police strength.  First Aboriginal Policewoman, Sandra May. Spokeswomen’s Network Program established by the NSW Premiers Department, and the Police Force establishes a Spokeswomen’s Network.  First policewoman attached to the Mounted Police, Constable Janet McGillivray.

1983
First Policewoman Highway Patrol Cyclist, Constable Val Bryant.

1984
Last passing out parade at Redfern Police Academy. 720 women in the NSW Police Force. First female General Duties Inspector, Patricia Hynds.  First female Inspector (country), Ruth Styles at Warilla. Introduction of first stage of merit based promotion.  First policewoman certified as a Police Diver, Constable Lisa Ford.  First Policewoman certified as a Police Rescue Squad operator, Constable Sally Verhage. The Police Academy moves from Redfern to Goulburn. Community Based Policing is introduced.

First civillian Ethnic Liaison Officer, Leela Smith, was appointed to the NSW Community Relations Bureau. 

1985
NSW Police Force celebrates 70 years of Women in Policing.
The First Criminal Intelligence Analyst Training  Course was conducted from 11-22 November. Ms Diane Elphinstone was the only female on the course, which was designed to teach students to integrate and analyse information through a series of techniques which permitted the analysed results to be used as a practical tool to fight organised crime.

1986
Recruiting height restrictions removed.  First Policewoman assigned to the Water Police, Constable Lisa Ford.

1987
Amalgamation of the NSW Police Force (the operational arm of the organisation) and the NSW Police Department (which dealt with policy and administration) created the current NSW Police Service. This was finalised by the Police Service Act in 1990. 

1988
Part-time maternity leave trialled by 5 women police in metropolitan and country areas. 1000th female office sworn in at the NSW Police Academy, Goulburn.  First female Patrol Commander, Inspector Bev Lawson, at Engadine.

1989
Now 1,293 women in the Police Service, representing 10.1% of police strength. First female Superintendent, Bev Lawson, Patrol Commander, Wollongong.  Merit based promotion for Sergeants introduced.

1990
Second woman appointed to the Executive of the NSW Police Association, Bernadette Dubois.  Taskforce established to review Sex Based Harassment.  Commissioner’s Taskforce on the Status of Women and Minority Groups.

1992
Anti-Discrimination Board inquiry into discrimination during pregnancy hears evidence from women police.  Sue Alexander appointed to the Executive of the NSW Police Association.

Physical requirements for recruiting change and the height of the wall is reduced allowing more women to enter the Police Force.

1993
First female Chief Superintendent and District Commander, Bev Lawson, at Cumberland District.  Marea Rayment sponsored by the NSW Police Association to attend the International Policewomen’s conference in Canada. Lola Scott appointed as the first female Patrol Tactician at Redfern in January, 1993.

1994
Christine Nixon appointed as the first female Assistant Commissioner in New South Wales.  Seven women attend the NSW Police Association Biennial conference as delegates.  First woman in the Dog Squad (tops course), Constable 1/C Debbie Lee. Implementation of Permanent Part- Time work.
For the first time two women are appointed to the Executive of the NSW Police Association, Elizabeth (Beth) Stirton and Marea Rayment.  First all female Appeal Board at the Government Related Employees Appeal Tribunal (GREAT). The GREAT members are: Elizabeth Stirton (Police Association representative), Cynthia McCloughan (Police Force representative and Patricia Lynch (Chair). Lola Scott becomes the first female Detective Chief Superintendent when she was appointed Commander, Internal Affairs.

1995
1,719 women in the Police Service, representing 13.1% of police strength. Seven women occupy Commissioned Rank positions (Christine Nixon, Barbara Galvin, Narelle Willis, Cynthia McCloughan, Bev Lawson, Caroline Smith & Lola Scott). 80 years of Women in Policing in New South Wales.  First intake of the Bachelor of Policing at Charles Sturt University.

1997
Detective Chief Superintendent Lola Scott is the first female appointed as a Region Commander.  Bev Lawson is the first female appointed as a Deputy Commissioner in NSW. Restructuring of the Police Service occurs and 80 Local Area Commands are created.

2000
Sydney 2000 Olympics: NSW Police is highly praised for its security efforts.

Jan Griffiths retires as the last Matron on 17 July, following 36 years of service.

Ann Blackler, Jennifer Dyball and Jodie Hamilton became the first 3 NSW Police Force female officers to be seconded to the United Nations to serve as 'Civillian Police/Peacekeepers' in East Timor. 

2001
Christine Nixon is appointed as the first female Police Commissioner in Australia and Victoria’s 19th Police Commissioner on 23rd April, 2001 at the age of 47.

First intake of civilian Scene of Crime Officers (SOCOs) which included female civilians Jennifer Raymond and Nicole Greenway. 

Bron Steel became the first female Senior Rural Crime Policy and Program Officer. 

2002
Disaster Victim Identification experts from NSW Police are deployed to Indonesia in the wake of the Bali Bombings.  With the passing of Bev Lawson in 1998 and the departure of Christine Nixon, there are no female Assistant or Deputy Commissioners and only 5 women are in charge of Local Area Commands. Commissioner Moroney renames the organisation back to the NSW Police Force or “The Force”.

First female Rural Crime Investigator appointed. 

2003
Police Headquarters is relocated from 14 College Street, Sydney to 1 Charles Street, Parramatta.

2004
Major Event: Redfern Riots

2005
Major Event: Cronulla Riots.  NSW Police Force celebrates 90 years of Women in Policing.

The Behavioural Science Team was created and Sarah Yule was appointed as Forensic Psychologist/Manager. It was the first position of its kind in an Australian state or territory police force, being a fulltime psychologist position providing expertise for criminal investigations and other police operations.  

2006
Commissioner Ken Moroney announces a new award to recognise women and men who work to improve policing for women.  The Commissioners Perpetual Award for the Advancement of Women in Policing acknowledges initiatives, activities or projects that promote the standing of women in the organisation.

The inaugural winners are the “90 Years of Women in Policing in NSW Committee”, who organised the celebrations in 2005.

Lynette Nelson was awarded the first female Public Service Medal. 

2007
Christine Ronalds SC finalises the “Ronalds Report” into sexual harassment, intimidation and bullying of female officers in the NSW Police Force.  The report makes a number of recommendations for improvement.

Nicole Rose PSM became the Director of the Office of the NSW Police Commissioner, one of the most senior female roles in the NSWPF. 

2010
The Community Awareness of Policing Program (CAPP), a first for law enforcement agencies in Australia, was introduced in NSW. Developed by the NSW Police Force Customer Service Program, CAPP provides leaders of our communities with a unique insight into policing in NSW and is sponsored by Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn.

2011
In 2011, the NSW Police Force comprised of 19,518 personnel - consisting of 15,617 police and 3,901 civilian staff.  Policewomen represent 24% of employees.  There are 12 female Superintendents and 2 females in SES positions (Catherine Burn and Carlene York). 

Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn is named the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year. Clair Hodge is appointed to one of the most senior female roles in the NSWPF and heads the Office of General Counsel. NSWPF women featured in NSW Government publication 'Breaking Through'.

2012
NSW Police Force Leadership Directorate conducts the inaugural Women’ Leadership Program for 20 sworn (Inspector) and civilian (Grade 9/10) female personnel.  Graduates of this program are: Inspectors Denby-Lea Eardley, Lyn Kaesler, Shari Allison, Susan Charman-Horton, Nicole Bruce, Karen Clogher, Despa Fitzgerald, Katherine Hawkins, Jennifer Lawton, Nada McDonald, Joanne Reid, Jennifer Scholz and Sonya Tabor and civilian: Penny Cheverall, Veronika Dechnik, Yasmin Hizbas, Erin McMullan, Kerrie Shepherd, Jodie Stubbs and Ingrid Thompson.

2013
Senior Constable Karen Lowden is awarded the International Association of Women Police (IAWP) Medal of Valor Award for her role in assisting Madeline Pulver who had been fitted with an ‘explosive collar’.
Juliana Nkrumah AM awarded membership of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community, particularly the welfare of women and refugees. 

2014
NSW Police Force is comprised of 22, 045 employees. Policewomen represent 26.9% of sworn personnel.  Women make up 35% of the Force. 13 policewomen are Superintendents & 2 are SES.

2015
NSW Police Force celebrates 100 years of Women in Policing and 50 years since women were officially ‘sworn in’ as Constables and given the full powers of a police officer.