Recruitment Challenges for the West Australian Police Force

The West Australian Police Force has recently experienced a significant exodus of officers, prompting a major international recruitment drive to boost their numbers. However, this drive has faced multiple challenges in terms of visa accessibility for prospective candidates. The migration laws of Australia have become an obstacle for individuals like UK police officer Jonathan Wales, who withdrew his application after realizing that his son’s autism might hinder their chances of obtaining permanent residency in Australia.

Mr. Wales, who served as a police officer in Scotland for almost a decade, expressed his disappointment at not being able to join the WA force when he saw the new recruits being sworn in on Monday. He emphasized that Australia’s migration policy considers children with disabilities or health conditions as potential burdens on taxpayers. The health requirement under the Migration Act calculates the potential cost of an individual’s health on the Australian economy, and individuals like Mr. Wales’s son Freddie are likely to exceed the threshold. Without the option of a health waiver, their visa applications are rejected.

This issue extends beyond Mr. Wales and his family, as many other prospective candidates face uncertainties about the visa process and the likelihood of their families being granted visas based on their children’s disabilities or health conditions. The lack of transparency creates emotional and financial challenges for applicants who invest their time and resources in the recruitment process, only to be informed later that their chances of obtaining a visa are slim.


1. How are Australia’s migration laws affecting police recruitment in Western Australia?

Australia’s migration laws, particularly the health requirement, have caused difficulties for prospective police officers in Western Australia. Children with disabilities or health conditions can exceed the significant cost threshold, leading to visa rejections.

2. Can applicants appeal against visa rejections based on health assessments?

While some applicants can appeal through a health waiver, this option is not available for all visas, exacerbating the challenges faced by prospective candidates.

3. Why is transparency important in the recruitment process?

Lack of transparency in the visa process creates emotional and financial hardships for applicants. Prospective candidates should be informed upfront about the potential visa issues they may encounter.

4. What can be done to address the visa challenges faced by police recruits?

Migration lawyers and advocates are calling for the state government to advocate on behalf of police officers trying to come to Australia on visas without health waivers. They believe the state government should work closely with the federal government to seek waivers for all visa applicants.

5. How does the recruitment drive aim to address the officer shortage in Western Australia?

The WA Police Force aims to recruit 750 officers from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand over a five-year period to address the exodus of officers in the past year. A government-led campaign has resulted in over 1,400 international applications within the last 12 months.