Thinking critically about police unions in Australia: internal democracy and external responsiveness

Burgess, Mark, Fleming, Jenny and Marks, Monique (2006) Thinking critically about police unions in Australia: internal democracy and external responsiveness. Police Practice and Research, 7, (5), 391-409. (doi:10.1080/15614260601076033).


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This paper considers the challenges for Australian police unions in the 21st century. The empirical evidence is drawn from research conducted by two of the authors for the Police Federation of Australia (PFA) in 2003–2004. The paper first outlines the changing field of policing in which police unions exist, then provides background information on the various state and territory unions/associations and the PFA. The paper demonstrates that while police unions in Australia have won considerable gains for their members and contributed significantly to police reform, their current agendas are somewhat narrow. The paper contends that this is owing to the conservative membership base of police unions, ambivalent identification with the labour movement, and poorly defined conceptions of professionalism. The final section of the paper identifies four central challenges facing Australian police unions and attempts by the police unions to respond to these challenges.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/15614260601076033
ISSNs: 1561-4263 (print)
Keywords: policing, australia, police unions, police associations, privatisation, professionalisation, democracy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions : Faculty of Social and Human Sciences > Social Sciences
ePrint ID: 339893
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
11 December 2006Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2012 09:10
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 14:29

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