FORMER police officer Susan Norman has found that art helps relieve the stress and sense of isolation among those suffering from trauma and PTSD.
On Victorian Police Remembrance Day, Tuesday 29 September, she used her painting skills to honour the memory of the four police killed on the Eastern Freeway, Kew, in April.
On the same day, Victorian police held a virtual service to honour the fallen officers, as well as the other 19 Victorian officers, public service staff and police chaplains, who died in the past year.
“I painted the picture in memory of the four police officers killed on the freeway,” Ms Norman, of Balnarring and a former senior constable, said. “Each hat represents the vintage of the police officer with their registered number.
“The eyes [represent] someone always watching over them and the hands [are] releasing light so they aren’t left in the dark.”
Ms Norman was stationed at Knox and Moe where, she says, colleagues took their own lives due to suffering PTSD and accumulated mental health issues, as well as at Traralgon and San Remo.
She was retired due to injury and PTSD after 12 years in the force. It was not an easy transition.
“It’s a rough playing field,” she said. “Things play on your mind. It can lead to breakdowns because you can’t un-see what you have seen.
“I found art helps with the way I deal with situations.”
Ms Norman said serving and non-serving police officers shared a tight bond: “We feel what our brothers and sisters in blue are feeling.”
The Code 9 Foundation, which helps police, emergency services workers and their families in their time of need, had been especially helpful. “They saved me. I was close to the edge, but now I’m coming out the other side and am ready to go back.”
To help the work of Code 9 former Ms Norman is breeding border collies to be trained as assistance dogs.
Meanwhile, children and teachers from the Creative Kids Early Learning Centre and Kindergarten at Mornington sent tributes to honour police on National Police Remembrance Day.