DREAM JOB: Acting Sergeant Andrea Campagnolo, Constable Kirsty Blamer, Constable Rehana Lewis, Sergeant Merrilyn Hoskins, Senior Sergeant Jane Healy, Sergeant and officer-in-charge Natalie Abbott and Senior Constable Alison Smith.
DREAM JOB: Acting Sergeant Andrea Campagnolo, Constable Kirsty Blamer, Constable Rehana Lewis, Sergeant Merrilyn Hoskins, Senior Sergeant Jane Healy, Sergeant and officer-in-charge Natalie Abbott and Senior Constable Alison Smith. Paul Braven

50 year milestone for women in uniform

IT'S BEEN 50 years since women have been allowed to work in the police force but the Gladstone team had no time to celebrate yesterday.

Catching criminals was still on their agenda while sneaking in some pork belly over cake was as close to a salute as they were going to get.

And although 50 years is a milestone, Senior Sergeant Jane Healy can't believe it hasn't been longer.

"We're all really proud of the achievement - how far we've come and where we're going," she said. "We are in a very unique position these days, one where we are not disadvantaged at all. Every opportunity is the same for both males and females."

Sergent and officer-in- charge Natalie Abbott is the head of the Scene of Crime sector, and hers is an all-female squad.

"It's wonderful," she said. "All of our skills match each other, that's how we are trained. A woman's personal choices are the only hindrance."

The officers work the same hours as the men, and they work hard to ensure a balanced work and family life.

"I've got two kids in high school so there is a lot of juggling to make sacrifices both in work and with the family," Snr Sgt Healy said.

"It makes it easier that I'm so passionate about my job."

She started her career 18 years ago in Brisbane and says times have definitely changed since then.

"I knew the first female officer that was allowed to man an indigenous area. That was in 1998. It's hard to believe, too, that it was only five years ago that a female was allowed to be a single-staffed officer."

Sergent and officer in charge Sgt Natalie Abbott has been in the force for 10 years. She moved after moving to Gladstone from Melbourne.

"I've had a couple of other jobs but nothing compares to this," she said.

"It's a job with flexibility, a job that you can grow in and work with when you have a change of circumstances," she said.

As Senior Sergeant Healy put it: "It's the best job in the world."

Did you know?

On March 16, 1931, Eileen O'Donnell, 35, and Zara Dare, 45, became the first female police officers in Queensland. However, they were not actually sworn in and had no uniform or powers of arrest. Both women were single, a criterion consistent with the marriage bar in the public service.



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