Dr WOODRUFF - In regard to police recruiting. I understand that HECS fees which were previously covered are now to be charged to recruits for training and that they may have an impact on the recruiting of people into the police service. Do you agree that is going to be a disincentive, especially for older potential recruits?
Mrs PETRUSMA - I missed the first part of your question.
Dr WOODRUFF - HECS fees - they were previously covered but I understand that they're now going to be charged to recruits for training. What do you think the impact will be for older recruits?
Mrs PETRUSMA - Tasmania Police has about 1000 people a year, a high percentage of people still applying for policing. It is seen as a career of choice but I will ask Assistant Commissioner Bodnar because he knows recruitment very well.
Asst Comm BODNAR - Yes, the minister is right, we average about 1000 applications a year for people to join our organisation. The pleasing thing is from a standard recruitment perspective - when I say a 'standard recruitment perspective' I am talking about an eight month recruitment course, we've been able to fill all of our recruitment courses now for a number of years.
As an example of that, we have a course of 26 recruits starting at the Academy on 1 August this year so for the longer recruitment courses it hasn't proven to be an impediment as yet. We have a HECS fee for those who are going through the recruitment course so you are quite right. It's in the vicinity of about $5500 per year. That came about as a result of a shift in Commonwealth funding. Funding was no longer provided to the University of Tasmania so we had to work through some of those issues. It hasn't been an impediment to date for those longer-term recruiting courses.
When I look at some of our accelerated training program courses, and for the benefit of the committee, those programs are where we attract police officers from other agencies who would like to come and work within our jurisdiction, I wouldn’t say it's had a significant impact there, although we haven't met the numbers that we would like to achieve in some of those accelerated training programs.
There are a number of reasons for that - it's not just about fees and things of that nature. We all know the economic climate has changed in the last few years, and you look at housing affordability as well, so there are a number of different variables in there. We haven't seen a significant impact. We are still getting applications; we are still filling those traditional recruitment courses.
On Friday 17, next week, we have 24 recruits graduating from the Academy. Next year, we're planning for recruitment courses through January, April and October as well. We are refocusing our recruiting activities all the time but we haven't seen a significant barrier at this particular time.