Discrimination of ADHD by Queensland Police Recruiting
Discrimination of ADHD by Queensland Police Recruiting
Why this petition matters
DISCLAIMER: I was honest and declared my diagnosis and medication from the beginning on all paperwork.
I was unofficially diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive) as a child, but it was not until I was 24 that I sought help for my lack of concentration and focus and became medicated for the first time. This decision changed my life for the better. Not once did it occur to me that being diagnosed with ADHD and taking medication that simply helped me to focus would be met with discrimination and stigmatism that can only be described as archaic.
In March of 2022, I applied to join the Queensland Police Service, something I had wanted to do for a long time. I had applied many years prior to being formally diagnosed with ADHD as an adult but did not pass the initial exam. I felt confident this time, I knew that I could focus and put the answers that were inside my head on paper.
I passed the entrance exam, I also passed the fitness test, swimming test, panel interview and ironically the written psychological exam. Technically I had passed the medical, I was physically fit, but Sonic HealthPlus who conducts the pre-employment medicals for the Queensland Police Service deemed me mentally unfit due to my ADHD diagnosis and medication. It is worth noting that the physician who did the exam did not question it as he asked me for my dosage and said I had passed everything, only the doctor I never saw who reviewed the paperwork days later determined I was not good enough. Another physician who did my hearing and vision test on the day with Sonic told me about her own ADHD diagnosis, there was never a mention to my face that this would be a huge issue.
QPS Medical Guidelines state that candidates diagnosed with ADD need to be fully asymptomatic and off treatment for at least two years.
This statement is incorrect and insulting. ADD is an outdated term and if proper research was undertaken they would be aware that ADHD is not a disease that I or anyone can cure. They still categorise ADHD as a mental illness, the same category they have schizophrenia in despite the DSM-5 which is the most comprehensive, current and critical resource for medical professionals classing ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder.
I lodged an appeal with the QPS Recruiting Office who advised me I needed to appeal directly with Sonic HealthPlus - which I did. QPS contacted Sonic directly and approved my request to appeal. I was advised the outcome of this appeal, a copied and pasted rejection in an email from a medical receptionist. I paid Sonic HealthPlus a total of $728.31, made up of $406.56 for my initial medical assessment and a further $321.75 for Sonic to review their own initial decision.
Why, especially in a cost of living crisis, did the QPS authorise an appeal request if they knew it was destined to fail before it even began?
I wrote multiple letters trying to prove myself and capabilities to an organisation that simply does not care, I submitted letters from medical professionals who were equally as confused as I was only to be told again, six weeks later by an Acting Inspector in recruiting on 13 June 2022 that I was not suitable based on their medical guidelines in yet another copied and pasted email, ignoring all points I had addressed in my submitted letters.
There are multiple current serving police officers who have ADHD and take medication for this, according to the QPS they do not count as they are a family and were diagnosed or declared this after they were recruited.
I waited six weeks for a response to my last letter, there were multiple follow up emails and calls and exactly 10 minutes after a letter was sent to the Acting Inspector outlining the lack of information regarding this decision and that it can be seen as discriminatory and that I had the intention to take this further with the Minister for Police and Corrective Services and potentially the media, a call to myself was attempted and missed, followed by another call 12 minutes later.
In this phone call the Acting Inspector stated that there are approximately 5,000 police officers currently on medication for various mental health disorders followed by advice that is is what it is before the phone call was abruptly ended by the Acting Inspector after a sarcastic remark was made regarding my appeal by themselves.
In a recent recruiting campaign called - You're Made For It, the QPS attempts to be inclusive and diverse, it makes you feel that you are good enough but fails to clarify it is only if you fit into their outdated guidelines.
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll was quoted as saying in relation to the campaign “Every bit of adversity you’ve overcome makes an impact. Every challenge, every tight spot. From your proudest moments, to your toughest times, in this line of work, your life experiences are your greatest assets.”
“The QPS is looking for applicants with diverse backgrounds and life experience which reflects the community we serve. You need integrity, community values, professionalism and show respect and fairness at all times,” she said.
The QPS have not even given me the opportunity or taken the time to find out who I am, or what I have achieved in my life or what my life experiences even are. They probably do not even know that I am a husband and a father or that I hold multiple trade qualifications and successfully run two small businesses.
Now, I am not suggesting the QPS just throw the door open and let anyone in, I am only requesting that for potential recruits such as myself who have ADHD, are provided the chance to prove they are capable instead of being cast aside.
Should every parent with a child diagnosed with a disorder such as ADHD sit them down and tell them not to waste their time entertaining the thought of ever being a police officer?
To be quite frank, its a missed opportunity because a lot of people would tell you that there are people with ADHD that are actually better under pressure, they think outside the box, they have ideas that would not occur to others and that this would be an incredible asset as a police officer.
It is also worth noting that the New Zealand Police conducted a review of their mental health standards which were identical to the ones of the Queensland Police and replaced them with a case-by-case assessment.
The Queensland Police Service need to bring their recruiting guidelines in line with current world views and the values that they themselves, claim to represent.
There is no better way for police to understand neurodivergent people than by hiring neurodivergent officers.