Constable First Class Jason ‘Policeman Jack’ Mather has been named Rotary Club of Darwin, Police Officer of the Year for 2012.
The affable Papunya based member joined the NT Police in 2008 after a 14 year career in Correctional Services in both QLD and the NT.
At a ceremony held at Government House on the 20th of September, Policeman Jack accepted the award with pride and surprise.
“To be honoured in this way for doing a job I love is very humbling.” he said.
Jack is a self confessed ‘bushie’ at heart having spent much of his childhood in western NSW before taking up shearing full time around the sheds of remote QLD and NSW.
A four year stint with a bank ended with him returning to the sheds before joining the Correctional Services in QLD. He worked in Juvenile Diversion before beginning his career as a Corrections Officer. His experiences bring a positive influence on how Constable First Class Mather goes about his policing.
“It is important that the residents see the Police as part of their community, there to keep them safe, not just as the people who will come to lock them up.
“I try hard to keep the young ones focused on the positives, including sport and education, as tools to keep them off the path that will lead them into the hands of my former colleagues in the Correctional Service.”
Policeman Jack is a familiar sight at the sports oval in Papunya, an active sportsman himself in his younger days he believes the team building lessons of competition strengthens the confidence and trust between Police and the wider community.
“The children often yell out and wave to me when I am on duty and that always brings a smile to my face. It is pleasing that they feel they can approach me at anytime if they have a problem.”
His biggest supporter, his wife Julie, works in the local childcare centre and says the children all look forward to visits from ‘Policeman Jack’.
“Sometimes it is a sad fact that the first contact the little ones have with the Police is when they come to arrest someone and they see that as bad.
“When Jack comes into the centre and helps the children with their reading or plays games with them they see that he is just an ordinary bloke. That is incredibly vital in building the trust and understanding that Police are people you can turn to if you ever need help,” Julie said.
“I am very, very proud of him, the work he does, the way he goes about his job, the respect the whole community has for him from the elders down. They know if they need to talk or they need help ‘Policeman Jack’ will be there for them.”
Constable First Class Mather is the 22nd winner of the annual award. President of the Rotary Club of Darwin, Vic Minchin, says they owe much to the support shown by senior Police and Government House in making the award possible.
“We are very privileged to have the Commissioner of Police, John McRoberts and Her Honour, Sally Thomas, the Administrator of the Northern Territory here with us today.
“The fact that we are here in Government House to present this award shows the support we have in supporting our Police.
“This would not happen anywhere else in Australia. This level of commitment and this level of support is just wonderful.”
“The essence of this award, the reason Rotary are proud to be associated with it is that the Police seem to get knocked all the time.
“When anything bad happens the first thing people do is ring the Police. The Police are expected to be bullet-proof, upfront and be able to deal with every situation.
“We believe we have not only one of the best Police Forces in Australia but one of the best in the world and we are committed to recognising the Officers who make that possible.”
Policeman Jack is keen to further his career in the Police Force and looks forward to his next challenge.
“I would love to move into the investigations side if possible, I find that aspect of Policing incredibly interesting.” Jason Mather said.
“I also had an opportunity to catch my first barramundi while in the top end recently, there are not many fishing holes in Papunya.
“Whatever happens in my career from here I’m ready to give it my best.”