Stalwart Sgt still has work to do

By Grace Jones | posted on December 8, 2017

AS THE Western Australian Police Force celebrates the centenary of involvement of women in the force this year, Albany Police Sergeant Merryn Bojcun has been acknowledged for her contribution to the service.

Sgt Bojcun was awarded a medal for her 40 years of service on Friday by Commissioner Chris Dawson and WA Police Minister Michelle Roberts at the WA Police Academy in Joondalup.

According to Sgt Bojcun, the police force that she joined in 1977 fresh out of university was drastically different to the network that is seen today.

“To join the police you had to have a background in nursing or teaching, or something along those lines,” she said.

“There were only 36 women in the WA Police when I joined. Since women weren’t allowed to get married or have children there weren’t a lot that enlisted.”

Sgt Bojcun said the manner in which Woman Police Constables, or WPC’s as they were known at the time, were treated was vastly different to the female officers of today.

“Female officers were almost like a token of the day,” she said.

“Much like how the station would apply for a canine section, they would also apply for a WPC to work in a particular role.

“I remember when I first joined I was working with an Aboriginal officer and there were very few at that time. He said to me that we were both the same.

“I didn’t understand what he meant until he said we were both part of minority groups within the police force.”

For WPC’s, their primary work centered around child welfare cases, female criminals and female sex crimes.

In reminiscing on why she joined the force all those years ago, Sgt Bojcun said it primarily had to do with the abuse suffered by women and children behind closed doors.

“I saw how vulnerable those people were in the abusive circumstances they were in, and saw the position that was available where I could protect them,” she said.

“In 1977 family violence wasn’t really a police matter as such. It was a private affair and was treated like a disturbance.

“We were there to keep the peace and walk away.”

Drastic changes in policy have changed how abusers and victims are treated by police and the justice system today; however, Sgt Bojcun said there is still “a long way to go”.

“Women and children still feel trapped in their relationship and family,” she said.

“To leave that family requires a huge amount of resources and support. A woman and her children may only have six weeks in a refuge but then what? It’s a hard choice.”

When asked the question if she was close to contemplating retirement after being recognised as the longest serving female police officer in the state, the answer was simple for Sgt Bojcun.

“I’m just as passionate in protecting victims of abuse as I was 40 years ago,” she said.

“There’s still so much work to be done and I want to be there to see it happen.

“I’ve got strong ties to the Albany community, and if I can be there when someone needs me, that’s what is important.”