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Interview: Jason Nelson

Churchill:

So, Jason, thank you so much for reaching out and agreeing, or offering, to be an interviewee.

Jason:

That’s okay.

Churchill:

I’m really looking forward to getting into conversation with you and hearing your story. And congratulations on, so you were awarded a Diploma of Leadership and Management and a Diploma of Work Health and Safety through Recognition of Prior Learning, is that correct?

Jason:

That’s correct. Yeah.

Churchill:

Yeah, that’s great.

Churchill:

So, Jason, I watched your video. It was very inspiring and, you know-

Jason:

Thank you.

Churchill:

Very moving. So, that gives me some good background, but would you like to go through the process of just talking to me about your background, and basically, what led you up to the point of contacting Churchill?

Churchill:

So, I mean, as you know, I’ve interviewed Brendan, who I know has played a big part in your life.

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

So, yeah, I want to hear all the story. So, it doesn’t just have to be about “I worked here, I worked there, and then I got this qualification”. So, just talk about whatever you feel like talking about, and I’ll ask any other questions as we go.

Jason:

I suppose a bit of my background, you can tell by my accent I’m not an Australian born person-

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

Although it is my second time living in Australia.

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

I was mainly brought up in the UK, in Merseyside, on the banks of the river Mersey, overlooking Liverpool. And then-

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

… we came out in the late seventies and lived in Adelaide, my parents and my sisters and I, for a while, and then ended up going back to the UK. After finishing my secondary education, I suppose, I then joined the Royal Navy. Nine years with the Royal Navy, seeing active service in the Gulf, and in the former Yugoslavia in the early nineties.

Jason:

And then, mid-nineties my wife and I, Emma, we decided we were going to have kids, and when our first daughter was born I decided that I didn’t want to be going away on nine month deployments anymore, I didn’t want to miss a lot of those important times, such as when they’re first speaking, first walking, and missing out on the kids’ lives. I didn’t really want to be a weekend dad, essentially-

Churchill:

What sort of hours were you doing in the Navy before deciding to have children?

Jason:

It varies really, because I was an aircraft technician, so-

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

… I would be, if I was shore based, I’d be away from home, Monday to Friday, and then home on the weekend, or every other weekend, or I’d be on shifts. So, a number of shifts, three weeks on, three weeks off. Similar to like a fly in, fly out kind of roster really, if you equate it to something over here.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

But then, if I was on board ship with the flight, we’d be sent away on deployment and invariably they’d last nine months. So that’d be nine months away from home.

Churchill:

Oh wow. Yeah, that’s a lot of time.

Jason:

And that’s back in the days really before the internet and before mobile phones, so-

Churchill:

Wow.

Jason:

You would only have contact when you came alongside somewhere, or if we were close enough to land that we could fly off and pick up mail-

Churchill:

So, [crosstalk 00:04:14] what’s that like?

Jason:

You kind of got used to it at the time.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

Looking back at it nowadays, and how easy communication is, I don’t know how we did it really, but we just did. But it was a bit bizarre at times, because you’d go onside, and we might not have had mail for three weeks or been able to speak on the phone for three weeks. I’d phone my wife, and we’d catch up over the phone, and then the mail would arrive that day, and I’d be reading the same things that we’d just had the phone call about.

Churchill:

Oh, wow.

Jason:

Yeah, so obviously technologies moved on in that short space of time. [crosstalk 00:04:53]

Churchill:

You must have had a pretty tight relationship to keep that kind of intermittent contact going?

Jason:

Well, I suppose the old saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder, really.

Churchill:

Yeah, true.

Jason:

But as I said, as soon as we started a family I thought, “That’s it”. And when I’d just, I’d come back from Yugoslavia in late, in September 1993, back to shore side for a while. And then about 18 months later, when our eldest daughter was only about a year old, the Navy wanted to send me back to sea again, back down to the Gulf for another nine months, and I said no, not having enough of that, and I’m going to put in my ticket to leave, and back then, very different to what a normal job would be when you hand your notice in, it’s normally, you know, a pay cycle of four weeks’ notice for a job these days. But I had to serve an 18-month notice-

Churchill:

Really?

Jason:

… when I left. Yeah. Because they saw it as that much time was what they invested in you to train you. So, they still owned you for that 18 months. So, I got… but they still wanted to send me to sea in that time, and I refused. So, they sent me to the Officers Training College in Devon, where I became member of staff at the training college there.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

For my time before I left. So, move me away from my squadron buddies and everyone that I worked with, as a bit of a punishment for not going back to sea.

Churchill:

Oh, really?

Jason:

That’s all right. It’s another naval base, you get used to it, you make other friends and [crosstalk 00:06:57]

Churchill:

So, that was more of a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5’er kind of a-

Jason:

No, that was three weeks on, three weeks off.

Churchill:

Oh, okay. Were you living in Devon?

Jason:

Yes.

Churchill:

Right, okay.

Jason:

Not with the family. The family [crosstalk 00:07:12]

Churchill:

No, that’s what I mean. The family was still up near Liverpool? Right.

Jason:

So, it’d be three weeks on the base, and then three weeks at home.

Churchill:

Okay. How far is it from Devon to Liverpool?

Jason:

It’s about a four-and-a-half-hour drive.

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

So, it’s not a great deal. [crosstalk 00:07:35]

Churchill:

Not a great deal by Australian standards, but a great deal by UK standards.

Jason:

Exactly.

Churchill:

It’s so different, isn’t it?

Jason:

Wouldn’t bother me over here. But over there, because it just seems so far away-

Churchill:

Like another country.

Jason:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, kind of.

Jason:

Yeah, so I then while I was looking for work, I initially wanted to stay in engineering. The work wasn’t really there, so thought, well I’ll put in for the police and the fire service at the same time, and see if I was successful in either, and the police came through first. So, I ended up joining Cheshire police, which was the county over from where I lived. So, it was a bit of degree of separation from the people I was going to be locking up, and where I lived. And I had a really successful policing career over there. You know, I… for someone that was brought up not liking police because of the social economic area I lived in or I was brought up in, I really thrived in police work. Seeing the other side of what police do, rather than what you think they do.

Jason:

I finished the academy over there, or the policing college over there. Became dux of my class, was awarded the Baton of Honour, becoming top of the class. And I went onto a very successful two-year probationary period, and I’d arrested over 150 people in that time. That clearly brought notice from the detective area, the criminal investigation department, and I was tapped on the shoulder to then become a detective. I worked plain clothes on a burglary squad for a while, and then passed my exams to become a detective and then spent the next 12 months on my trainee detective program before fully qualifying as a detective.

Jason:

And pretty much as soon as I became a qualified detective, I then went onto major crime, so homicides. And then onto the drug squad, doing some covert work, and then back to neighbourhood policing, which was a mix. It was a mix uniform and detective team, and we would combat pretty much all of the violent crime in a particular area, so robberies, burglaries, street level drug dealing, all that types of stuff.

Churchill:

So, in police, is it natural career progression to want to go into more intense policing? Is that how it works, or does it depend on the individual?

Jason:

Yeah, on to the individual, really. It depends, some people… because you tend to do some rotations when you’re in your probationary period. So, you’ll have a time on traffic, a time with detectives, time with different areas. And then, you tend to, depending on your policing style and the type of things you into, you tend to lean towards a certain way. And for me, my tutor constable, who’s also ex Royal Navy, when I joined, and uniform was a really good thief taker. He was a hundred miles an hour, locking people up, got into crime, he’s a real… Worked on the crime side, knew all the local bad guys, knew where they’d all hung out. Shadowing him for the period I did, it all rubbed off on me. And that’s what I wanted to do.

Jason:

But also, before, when I was in the Royal Navy, I used to read a lot of true crime books.

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

And it always interested me on some of these almost mythical or legendary murderers, the Jack the Rippers type of thing. They always kind of, ask the question in my mind, “What makes these people tick?” So, I suppose it kind of is a natural progression for me once I became a police officer to then become a detective and then work on my side. So, to get that type of insight.

Churchill:

So, when you first told me about going into policing, you mentioned that it surprised you initially that you thrived because it’s the way that you viewed police when you were growing up. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Jason:

It’s just because where I was brought up wasn’t, you know, it was very much a working class… The kind of area where even as kids on the street, you’d have run ins with the police. And I suppose when I was a kid it was, as well it was, police was still giving you a clip around the ear rather than a stern talking to or-

Churchill:

Right.

Jason:

… that type of stuff. So, I had personally had a couple, I hadn’t been arrested, but I’ve had a couple of run ins with some of the local coppers, just because of the people I hung around with.

Churchill:

So, had you been a punk rock kid?

Jason:

Not so much a punk rock kid. More of a skinhead, not in a Nazi way, but just-

Churchill:

Yeah. Anti-establishment way.

Jason:

Yeah, a little bit.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

A bit that way. But as a teenager I found the Sea Cadets, which kind of kept me off the street and got me… Because I come from a military family, not my father. My father was a shipbuilder that worked at Cammell Laird’s, who built a lot of Royal Naval ships. But my grandfather on my dad’s side was Royal Navy, as were a number of his brothers, and my grandfather my mom’s side was in the army. So, I’d come from quite a military background. I’d say from quite about, uh, about 11, 12 years old I wanted to be in the Navy. So that’s kind of how it went. And the Sea Cadets that for me was a way of learning more about the sea, and Naval ways, and going on camps, and things like that. I’ve continued in the Sea Cadets until literally the day, or the week before, I joined the Royal Navy.

Churchill:

Right.

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

Interesting. And how long were you in police in the UK?

Jason:

Nine years over there.

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

And then around that time, so 2005, while we were on holiday in Spain, my wife and I, we were getting a bit itchy feet where we lived. And we were, we actually talked about moving to Spain, or to Lake District, or down to Devon and Cornwall. Somewhere a little more rural, and maybe a little safer for the kids to grow up.

Jason:

And then I saw an advert in the newspaper one day for New Zealand police we’re recruiting from other police jurisdictions, internationally, mainly the UK. So, here’s with that itchy feet, I brought back home to Emma and said, “Well, what do you think about this? Move to New Zealand.” I have a cousin over there. And I said, “We could move over there, you know. Try something different.” And, we just, ironically, we just watched a documentary on the Mongrel Mob in New Zealand. And my wife said-

Churchill:

What’s the Mongrel Mob?

Jason:

It’s like an organized crime, bikey type gang over in New Zealand.

Churchill:

Oh, right.

Jason:

And my wife was like, “No, we’re not moving there. I know what you’re like, you’ll get into like covert work.”

Churchill:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Jason:

And so on. And then she says, “But, if Australia came up, we’d really think about it.” And I’m thinking to myself, “Why? Because there’s no guns in Australia.”

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

But as it happened, I then set about, I was interested, so I had a look online and found that Queens and South Australia and WA were recruiting similarly. And looking at it, obviously, for me the obvious choice would be Adelaide. I’d lived there before, my dad’s sister, my auntie, and my cousins still live there. But WA was offering a slightly better package, in that you got permanent residency the day you landed in the country. So, we chose WA, and I had three days to submit my application before it closed.

Churchill:

Wow.

Jason:

11 months later we landed.

Churchill:

Wow. Sorry, did you say your wife’s name is Emma?

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

Yeah. So, had Emma been to Australia previous to this?

Jason:

No.

Churchill:

Wow. That was a leap of faith.

Jason:

It was. The kids we knew would with assimilate.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

That being said, our eldest, had just finished primary school. She was in that sort of cusp of being a big girl, moving to high school.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

She saw it as us taking her away from my friends and things.

Churchill:

Yeah, that’s a tricky time. [crosstalk 00:17:44]

Churchill:

And how old was your younger daughter at the time?

Jason:

She was seven, nearly eight, so yeah.

Jason:

Yeah, they were fine. They’re literally fine. They loved the place and settled in quite easy, you know.

Jason:

Um, yeah, so we came over and it was a big leap for Em. We have, you know, considering, I mean, we both made that choice, but, you know, I clearly thought Australia was amazing because I had all these memories from childhood.

Churchill:

So how long had you been over here as a kid? And was it the military that had brought your family over here?

Jason:

No, it wasn’t the military. My dad, my dad’s sister, my auntie Linda, came over as a 10 pound [inaudible 00:18:43]. She’d fallen in love with an Australian RAF guy in the second world war. Then basically followed him out here in the fifties. And then, yeah, in the late seventies, my parents thought they’d do the same. My dad had been offered a job, cause he’s a carpenter by trade, been offered of a job working for my uncle who ran a funeral business. My dad would be making the coffins for him.

Churchill:

Oh, wow.

Jason:

Yeah. So that’s how we came over. And although we had family over here, and my mum really struggled. You know, in the seventies it was still very much that, being in trades and stuff, you’d go to work, you’d go to the pub after work with the blokes. And my mom was bringing up three young kids. So, not that my Dad, you know, didn’t spend time with us or love us, but that was just the culture back then.

Jason:

And even though we had family around the corner, and you know, the pool to swim in, and all that type of stuff, she just struggled, so we ended up going back. It’s kind of… I think it’s been one of my dad’s biggest regrets, I think. Because he, you know, when we decided to move over, he was like, “Honestly son, it’s the land of opportunity. You’ve got to go. You know, as much as I’m gonna miss you, you’ve got to go.”

Churchill:

So, he really went back for your mum?

Jason:

Yeah, yeah, pretty much. My Mum, she was very close to her family. Obviously still is. And that’s why we went back what have you. But it just, yeah, it was the… I mean it was only like between six and eight when I was here, but it just left these indelible memories in my mind. And even, just things like, when I came back that that hit me straight away. Once at smelled certain smells again, like the smell of the eucalyptus in the summer, and certain tastes and things, you know, just took me back to childhood, and the memories, and the reasons why I came over. So, I knew that, you know, once we’d settled would be fine. [crosstalk 00:21:09]

Churchill:

You got a bit of Aussie in you there, didn’t you?

Jason:

Yeah. Definitely, yeah.

Churchill:

So where had you been living with your parents when you came over here, originally?

Jason:

In Torrensville, just outside Adelaide.

Churchill:

Townsville. Okay.

Jason:

Torrensville.

Churchill:

Oh, yep. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

Yeah. It’s just literally 10kms from the city centre in Adelaide. So, yeah, it was awesome.

Churchill:

Wow, so the tropics, so different to England.

Jason:

Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny, I hate the cold now too. Like really when we first came over, I thought the winters were, you know, mild, and they still are in comparison to the UK, but I know I’m totally-

Churchill:

Get spoiled, don’t you?

Jason:

Yeah, I’m totally acclimatized now. So, I hate winters here. I hate any of the cold, and the wind, and the rain. I love the summers. So, and that’s how we came across. Came over with WA police and-

Churchill:

Okay. So, at the point when you immigrated… So, you’d had nine years Navy, nine years UK police-

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

… how is your mental health at that point?

Jason:

Amazing. I thought I was invincible-

Churchill:

Okay. Right.

Jason:

You know, I loved the high-risk stakes of being a police officer. You know, I loved smashing doors in, and locking up criminals, detailed investigations, all that type of stuff. I loved it.

Jason:

I’d only had… well I say the only, it’s not only. I had some trauma experiences up until that point. I was sexually assaulted when I was 13-years-old by one of the instructors in the Sea Cadets. But I’d locked that away. I hadn’t told anyone. I’d locked that away in the back of my mind. And then, you know, I’d lost my grandfather, when I was about 16.

Churchill:

Had you been really close to him?

Jason:

Yeah, yeah, I had. But us kids were pretty lucky in that he’d had brain cancer, and he went downhill relatively quickly. And in a home because my Nan couldn’t look after him because he was, you know, he was so poorly regressed. It was inoperable. It was terminal, and it was making him regress, almost making him childlike. And so, we were quite sheltered from seeing that decline in him. And I’m quite glad because I remembered seeing him, you know, as this big, awful proud man, you know, that was always full of fun. So, I’m quite glad I didn’t really see that much of him when he was ill, and I’m also glad that he didn’t suffer for too long, either.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

That didn’t hit me too much, the grief of my grandfather.

Jason:

And then, yeah, [crosstalk 00:24:25] I didn’t really… you know, my time in the military, which was amazing. You know, I hadn’t really seen any really bad death or destruction that affected me. Yeah, so I was pretty good by then-

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

… but it wasn’t until about two years of our move over here when I was still a police when I was first affected.

Churchill:

So, tell me about the next chapter now. Yeah, so with Australian police [crosstalk 00:24:59]. So, I write down from watching your video, the very eloquent way that you described your trauma, “Slowly collecting an encyclopedia of traumatic short stories from the front line.”

Jason:

So, when I was at the police college, well, it was just after I graduated from the police college, my grandmother, who’s, we don’t, obviously of the grandfather I was really called close with, and I was really close to my grandmother, Marjorie. She, you know, I’d see her every week. I’d spend time with her. You know, she just, I was just so close. She was the matriarch of our family, you know, and she died suddenly, massive heart attack, but she was also the first sudden death that I went to as a police officer.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

So, I dealt with that at the time as a police officer and not as a grandson. I didn’t really process that grief. Even though-

Churchill:

So, you were called to her death as a police officer?

Jason:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Churchill:

Right. And so, this was when you were still in the UK?

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

With UK police.

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

Right. Oh my goodness. Because you know, I was really close to my grandmother, and she was also the matriarch of the family, and it was a huge thing in my life. And the first close family member that had died in my life, but I didn’t have to, I didn’t have to go to this, you know-

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

I wasn’t called to the death. So that must have been very full on.

Jason:

Yeah, it was, but I had the police hat on, you know.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

So, this is one of those short stories that you mentioned that came tumbling down later on.

Jason:

So, I had the trauma of being sexually assaulted. One of my best friends died on my bucks night, which was the, which finished in the early hours on my wedding day. So, Peter died in a tragic accident, falling from a hotel balcony the morning of my wedding day.

Churchill:

Oh my goodness.

Jason:

So, the wedding day was a little different, so to speak, you know, dealing with the police or the incident. Whether it should go on, but you know, that whole grief of all of the, because he’s part of the Naval contingent that came up to my wedding to form the honour guard. And so that was another one of the short stories that got locked away. So, I came over to Australia. I had each of those stories tucked away in that encyclopedia. Plus, others that you pick up along the way. The different incidents I’d been to as a police officer. You know, going to autopsies, tragic accidents, death scenes, delivering death messages. Those are some of things that sit with me. Knocking on a door and telling someone that loved one has died.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

All those kinds of things were dealt with dark humour and, or going for a beer after work, before the days where it was even considered that police officers or first responders would live with PTSD or would be diagnosed with anything like that.

Jason:

Anyway, but that wasn’t my main issue at that time. I joined the police over here, come through the academy, knowing full well I’d be back in general duties initially. I got picked up to work on the state intelligence division, in a high-risk covert team, working undercover. And for whatever reason, because I was a palm, because, you know, I’d only been over two years, or what the detective Sergeant and detective senior Sergeant on that team went about six months just systematically bullying me by sending me into operational situations and trying to set me up to fail in those situations. Which, as you can imagine, in high risk, covert setting your life’s on the line if you make a mistake or your cover is blown.

Churchill:

Absolutely. Can you give me a specific example? So that I can visualize that.

Jason:

It’s very hard without breaching confidentiality and-

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

Operational procedures. Because if I tell too much, and it gets out in the public, I can be arrested. So, I don’t-

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

I can’t, it’s… but yeah, they’d be sending me into a situation where they thought I would out myself as a police officer, and that would give them the opportunity to kick me off the team by saying I didn’t have the skill set to be on that team. Fortunately for me, I was an experienced operative, and I would come back with a result every time, and it just seemed to fan the flames of this situation.

Jason:

So, I was in this perpetual cycle, but I felt I had to stay in it because I was getting paid extra money to be on this team. We were building our house, we were paying rent at the same time. So, I had a mortgage, paying rent. And I didn’t want to let my family down, you know. I had this incredible pressure on myself to be the strong one of the family, to be the provider, and the keystone. And it just caused me to spiral down into this deep, dark depression of what I felt unworthy, and useless, and a burden. And I’d never experienced anything like that before in my life and never… before then I can honestly put my hand on heart and say, I’d never even had a day when I felt down, you know. There’d always been this happy go lucky guy, you know, that loved adrenaline sports and loved football, and all this type of stuff, and love my family.

Jason:

Anyway, it got to a point where I was in such a bad space that I attempted to take my life. But not just once, but several times. But I managed to keep it all covered up, until one time where Emma found me after one of those attempts. Curled up in a ball at the bottom of the shower, with the shower on, just sobbing my heart out. And I told her I didn’t want to live anymore, I’d become this burden, you know. And we talked and we talked, and she basically was telling me about the girls, you know, “Live for the girls. They’re your life.”

Churchill:

Okay. So, yeah. So, how did Emma handle it? Was it… I know that in your video you describe Emma as your rock-

Jason:

She is. She’s an unwavering force of nature, she really is. She made me…because the other thing about being in, and coming from a military background, and in the police, that stigma and that self-stigma because you’re in this male dominated, stigma fuelled culture. You know, where it’s weak to say there’s something wrong, or it’s weak to say you need help. Because you’re worried that people won’t work with you, you think it’s going to limit your career, you’re going to be seen as soft or this type of stuff. And that was all going on in my head as well.

Jason:

But it was Em that said, “Look, what’s more important? Your health. There’s always… we’ll get through it somehow. You know, you don’t have to be a police officer if you don’t want. You don’t have to be on this team if you don’t want. We’ll work it out. We always do.”

Churchill:

You’d basically imploded, hadn’t you? Because you had-

Jason:

Yes and no.

Churchill:

… all of those unresolved trauma stories that were pushing from the inside. And then you had all of this responsibility that you were placing on yourself from the outside to be the superhero, to be the provider. And so, you had the pressure that was coming from the inside, and then the pressure that was coming from the outside, and then you had nowhere to go, did you?

Jason:

Entirely right. And what I’ve learned since, with all of the work I’ve, just this psychological rehab that I’ve done, what I’ve learned since, is that when we’re born, we’re basically hardwired with basically self-limiting beliefs. We’re negatively hardwired from birth. And that’s why –

Churchill:

Why is that?

Jason:

I don’t know, I think it’s to do with how we’ve evolved as a human race, you know? It’s always, you know, being those hunter gatherers back in the day you know. It was very tough, and you were always chasing things around to feed you and make you feel better. When you think about it, as human beings living in modern society, we’re always chasing happiness. We’re always looking for something to make us feel good. So, what I’ve learned is basically, we’re all hardwired with 18, there’s what they call 18 schemas or life traps.

Churchill:

Right.

Jason:

And then as we grow and develop, some of these become more dominant than others. So, for me, mine were self-sacrificing, unrelenting standards, the defectiveness, so that’s all of my self-worth, and failure. So, and so these work against me, as I was developing over time. So, self-sacrificing. I used to run marathons for charity at work, the charities outside of my normal work. I’d do anything for anyone that’s, you know, I’d give my heart and soul for anyone. But which is okay, but when you do that without looking after yourself, without doing, looking after your own self-care, it can obviously be too bad.

Jason:

Unrelenting standards, that’s just me pushing myself, and pushing myself, and pushing myself. As a distance runner, I would, you know, I would, I’d run a marathon even though the doctors or the physio had told me not to because of stress fractures or injuries I was carrying. I’d just push you the pain and do it. So, these sort of things that can be positive to a point, were becoming negative for me because I was, they’re those domineering life traps. And then because I’ve pushed myself and give myself to others more and more and more, and wasn’t looking after myself, that then worked against me with effectiveness. So, I didn’t feel worthy because I wasn’t working hard enough, or I wasn’t providing enough. And then I had a fear of failure. So, these schemas that I’ve known, I now know about, and now I can control, and understand, which was what was taking me, taking over me internally.

Jason:

So yeah, so that day when Emma found me, the next day I basically, I walked into the headquarters police station. I didn’t go into where I was working, put my gear on the table and I said, I broke down in front of the superintendent, and told her that I can’t work on that team anymore and what was happening. That was kind of swept under the carpet as much as those officers that were bullying me didn’t, nothing really happened to them. But I didn’t care, I was off it. They’d moved me off back on kind of the main force. [crosstalk 00:37:57]

Churchill:

So, how’d your superintendent received that news from you?

Jason:

She was gutted that I was, you know… because they’d tapped me on the shoulders to put me on this team because of my experience.

Churchill:

Right.

Jason:

So, she was gutted for me, and to be fair to her, she’d worked covertly previously in her career. So, she actually got me in to see a psychiatrist, to get some help re-assimilating back into kind of normal policing, out of covert policing. Because if you can imagine, when you’re in covert policing, you can take on pseudonyms and different personalities. So, in all intents and purposes, I was three different people. I was me, myself when I was at home, and I was pretending to be two other people, or four personalities if you like, it was me at home, Dad, father, husband. There was me in work, police officer, Jason as a police officer. But then as a covert operative, I was pretending to be two other people, as well, depending on the situation.

Churchill:

Wow, so compartmentalizing grief to make life liveable, and then having to be further dividing your personality would have just left you completely mentally and emotionally fragmented.

Jason:

Yes, I was burnt out. I was absolutely burnt out.

Jason:

Anyway, so I got some help, and the relief of just being off that team made me feel a lot better, and I got some help and I came good again. But that was the catalyst for me to then look for a job, to leave the police and look for a job. And that’s what I did.

Churchill:

Yup. And so, what did you move in to?

Jason:

Pretty much the job I’m in now. I work for the state government here in WA as a senior investigator. I’m with the department of water and environmental regulation. And I’ve been in various names of that department, depending on the machine of government changes for the past, since I left the police. I’ve been 11 years now with the department, doing that job. Yeah.

Churchill:

Yeah. And so, did you find it easy to go from police to finding a job, to finding a non-police job or non-policing job?

Jason:

Yeah, wasn’t too bad actually. At the time there was, it was still the mining boom, there was just a population boom. Obviously, the state government have to increase their numbers to deal with that. And then the visitor regulatory body, they need people to investigate noncompliance’s and enforce that. So, I managed to get the job where I’m now in, and the other investigators, senior investigators I work with are all ex-coppers, too. So, it was kind of, you know, it’s same sort of investigative practices, but the clientele you work with are a lot nicer and, but I still get to hang out with likeminded people, you know, from a former policing background.

Churchill:

And so, what, at what point did, Brendan become significant in your life?

Jason:

I, so few things have kind of happened in the last few years I suppose too, which ended up bringing me in contact with Brendan. I had a routine hernia repair operation a few years back, and while recovering in hospital, a few hours after their procedure, I had this sleep induced panic attack that I’ve never had before.

Jason:

So, basically my resting heartbeat kicks up in fits. It’s about 60 beats, 50 beats per minute. I woke up in my sleep, my heart rate was 160 plus and climbing. And I was finding it hard to breathe. Obviously, I was only like a few hours out of surgery, so I’d called the nurses in. They called the crash team. That went from like no people in my room, to about 15 people in my room in seconds that were telling other patients to get back in their rooms, and they were wheeling in the defibrillator and I was, I just started crying. I thought I was going die.

Jason:

No one would tell me anything. I was trying to get the nurse to tell me. And then, consultant came over and said, “Oh, there’s something wrong with your heart. If it keeps climbing the way it does, and it doesn’t stop, we’re going to have to use the defibrillator on you to basically shock your heart back into a normal rhythm or you will arrest anyway.”

Jason:

So, this was all going on, they pumped me full of medication. While this was all going in, my wife and youngest daughter walked in to this melee of what was going on. And it didn’t take, it took about 12 hours from our heart rate to come back to a kind of normal rhythm and I was exhausted. You know, you imagine your heart beating that fast and you’re just lying down. It’s really exhausting. Anyway, at the time they then sent me to a cardiologist. I had all these tests and found there’s nothing wrong physically. So, they put it down to a delayed reaction to aesthetic or something like that.

Jason:

But what I’ve learned since is this sleep induced panic attack that nearly killed me. So, that was the trigger point for all of that encyclopedia of short stories to come tumbling down again, at that point.

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

So, I spent the next three months reliving a lot of those things triggered by [crosstalk 00:44:34]

Churchill:

Open the door to the library again.

Jason:

Imagine reliving trauma in like Dolby surround sound and all HD Technicolor, but you can’t control it when that’s happening. You know, smells were triggering, noise, I was irritable to noise. I was just angry all the time. I was hyper vigilance. I was paranoid, and I was having flashbacks in a day, I was having nights terrors at night. And this went on for about three months because I didn’t know what was going on. I’d never experienced this before. I’d experienced depression before, but never this, and this was a different level of anxiety, you know, but all these, you know…

Jason:

And I remember one day walking around Coles or Woolies and doing like anti-surveillance while pushing the trolleys because I was so paranoid people were following me and stuff. And I still am affected in certain cases. Similar to Brendan, his story, like in cafes and things like that-

Churchill:

Yeah. Hypervigilant.

Jason:

I’ve got a view. Yeah. I’ve got to have views, still now I’ve got a view of the door. And my family know that.

Churchill:

Yeah, right.

Jason:

We’ll go to a restaurant or a café, and even my daughters or my wife will go, “You choose where you want to sit”, because they know I can’t sit in certain situations-

Churchill:

Checking exists.

Jason:

… still. Yeah. You go back into that trade craft and then-

Churchill:

It’s like it’s flipped your brain into a different gear, isn’t it? So, your brain is going into fight or flight, survival, amygdala-

Jason:

That’s exactly-

Churchill:

On high alert, and you’re in that gear when you don’t really need to be in that gear.

Jason:

… you are exactly right. The amygdala’s’ firing off. That alarm system in your brain is just firing, firing, firing. There’s no snooze button, there’s no off button.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

You’re purely in that survival part, your brain, anything that is coming into your vision, your sight, your smells, is held in the hippocampus. It’s not being processed around the prefrontal cortex. You just locked in yourself, you’re a prisoner within your own mind.

Churchill:

So, you know, it’s kind of like if a car got stuck on turbo injection, isn’t it? You know, so you have those periods where you want to go really fast, but if you work to cars engine like that all the time, the car would just wear out. And it’s like whatever switch is putting you into turbo, this needs to be put back into normal function, so that you’re only using that when you need it. Because, you know, those survival instincts are necessary sometimes, aren’t they, and is what has kept us alive, and we needed to run from-

Jason:

Exactly right. We’ve all got one of those-

Churchill:

Danger-

Jason:

One of those biological responses to danger, whether it’s-

Churchill:

It must be so exhausting, when that’s on all the time?

Jason:

It really is, it’s debilitating. And that’s why it frustrates me when I see, not so much over here, but over east, first responders and veterans being, you know, being surveilled by insurance companies who don’t want to pay workers comp out because, you know, they might look normal from the outside, but it’s debilitating to the inside, you know. And every single person’s experiences, although they’re similar, can be extremely individual and different, too.

Churchill:

So, what helps to get you off turbo?

Jason:

Well, now I’ve processed a lot of that trauma. And I do a lot of self-management and self-care. But then I didn’t know what was going on and it sent me into another depressive cycle. But I ended up getting to this point where I’m okay, I need help. And I’d left the police by then. I was in the job I’m in now, and I used to commute about an hour and a half to my office. I remember just breaking down on a busy commuter train. You know, in corporate wear, very packed train, just sobbing my heart out. And I’ll never forget it because no one asked if I needed any help. No one asked what had happened or what was wrong. So, I just got off the train. Got on another train and went to see my doctor straight away.

Churchill:

Yep. Did you want somebody to reach out to you at that point?

Jason:

I wasn’t necessarily suicidal again. It was more, I was just broken-

Churchill:

Yep.

Jason:

And exhausted.

Churchill:

Would it have been helpful for someone to sit down beside you and say-

Jason:

100%.

Churchill:

What’s going on?

Jason:

Knowing what I’ve learned now, and you know, obviously being a police support worker myself, of course, I know if someone had asked me, I would’ve just, I would’ve welcomed it with open arms, you know. And again, I was being the strong one in the family. I’ve hidden a lot of this from Em and the girls because, again, I’ve still stuck in that self-stigma, and not opening up, not talking about my feelings, and all that type of stuff.

Jason:

So, and yeah, so I went to the doctor essentially, and that’s when I was diagnosed with PTSD.

Churchill:

Yep.

Jason:

So, I’m now, you know, I’ve gone from being diagnosed with depression, anxiety, which was very much kind of under control to then this third said diagnosis, which was just, I’d overwritten everything else. But then I’ve got, you know, went see psychologists, got some help, and I was on medication, I was working well.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

Worked hard for a couple of years, and was in a really, really, really good spot. And this isn’t, you know, what I’m going to say next is no fault of anyone’s, but I was literally almost off my medication. I was gone on really well. And then unfortunately our youngest daughter Holly attempted to take her life twice and the space of three months.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

She was, we knew she was depressed, we knew she had anxiety. She was being bullied at school. A lot of peer group pressure, body image challenges. A lot of stuff that, behaviour that we’d put down to normal teenage hormonal behaviour. But really, she was in a world of hurt, and world of pain. And we didn’t really know how to deal with it. Even though my own experiences with my own mental health challenges.

Jason:

I’ve certainly learned since that everyone’s is so different and individual to that person. So, what works for me necessarily doesn’t work for Holly. So yeah, off the back of that though, it just made me so angry, not at Holly or myself, but at the system, at society, that enough was enough. And that was the point where I decided I was going to open up about my own journey-

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

… educate myself more about mental health, and speak to other people, and help other people.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

And that’s what I did. So, at the time we were going through that with Holly, I’d actually got in contact with Lyn and Ian Sinclair at Sirens of Silence charity. I was a member of the Rogue Runners club, Australia’s, you know, community running group. We were raising money for different charities each year. So, the year that this happened with Holly, we’d aligned ourselves with Sirens of Silence to raise money for them because three of the founder members, including myself at the running club, were former police officers. So, it just, there was a natural fit for us to align ourselves with Sirens. But when we were struggling with Holly, and the system for adolescents it just isn’t good, at all. You know, when Holly attempted suicide the second time, and both of the times by overdose, we were stuck in a hospital cubicle in emergency department for four days waiting to get her a bed at a proper mental health facility.

Churchill:

Wow.

Jason:

Because, you know, she’s that adolescent where the children’s system really don’t want to work with her, and they haven’t got the resources anyway in the public system. And she’s too young for the adult system. But we ended up getting-

Churchill:

[crosstalk 00:53:56] She gets stuck in the middle.

Jason:

She was, and as parents we didn’t know where to turn. So, Lyn and Ian were really good supports for us then. And we ended up getting Holly the help that she needed. We got her a bed in a new adolescent unit in a new hospital over here. And thankfully that was the turning point for her. She was further diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. You know-

Churchill:

What does that mean?

Jason:

So, it’s like the other different personality disorders.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

So, you can have the likes of schizophrenia, things like that. But borderline is kind of on the edge of all of those, you’ve got a mix of all of those symptoms.

Jason:

So, for Holly, she had come across… from anyone else looking at Holly, looking in, when her behaviour’s escalated, she would come across as almost entitled, brat-like, you know, talking to your parents like crap. Just acting up, you know, you’re like a spoil brat, type of thing, but it’s not. When she’s like that, she’s basically telling us she’s in pain and she need some validation, she needs some help, but that’s the only way she can communicate it. And she’d say, because she’s frightened in herself, she’s scared in herself, she would say horrible and hurtful things to us because she’s hurting. Or she would say frightening things to us or scary things to us because she was frightened and scared, and she was self-harming also. So, but thankfully, yeah, we ended up getting Holly the help that she needed.

Jason:

And 12 months later, Holly and I run the Perth half marathon together for Beyond Blue because Holly wanted to give back. And we actually that, a year later we both, we did a speaking gig together. So, she shared her story and I shared mine, from my perspective as my journey, but also as a parent of someone else.

Churchill:

Wow, that must have been an amazing experience to be doing that with her.

Jason:

It was very emotional-

Churchill:

I bet it was, oh my god. [crosstalk 00:56:17]

Jason:

… but it was a good experience because –

Churchill:

Is there a recording of that talk with both of you?

Jason:

I could probably find it somewhere.

Churchill:

Yeah, wow, that’d be great to see.

Jason:

The thing is, as well, when we went through that with Holly, as I said, I was still in this very much this insular way of thinking, stigmatizing kind of world. And what I didn’t realize at the time was to help Holly, I needed to change my parenting style dramatically. Because while Holly was hurting and in pain, me and her were butting heads has a lot, hell of a lot, through no fault of anyone’s, it was just that’s how we were dealing with it.

Churchill:

Yep.

Jason:

But what I’ve since, you know, I’ve changed my parenting style around, and you know, I’m glad to say Holly and I are as close as ever, you know. Even though she’s traveling around Europe at the moment with-

Churchill:

Is she? That’s so good!

Jason:

Yeah. She’s traveling around Europe with her boyfriend. She’s just turned 21 now-

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

… and we talk every day, you know, there’s not a day where we don’t talk. So yeah, so that’s kind of how I went from there with Holly. And after doing the studying, and I’m starting my public speaking journey, I also took the step to talk about, or report the sexual assault that had happened to me when I was 13-years-old to the police in the UK.

Jason:

Now being a police officer myself, or a former police officer myself, and I’ve investigated these types of crimes, I knew historical complaints are very hard to prove because of passage of time. One, the victim’s word against the offender. No physical evidence, necessarily. But I just, I wanted him to know that it wasn’t on. I wanted him to know that what he did to me caused me so much pain, for so many years. That, you know, when I reported that I’d been carrying that round with me for 32 years, that pain. My wife knew about it, my parents knew about it, they didn’t know exactly what had happened, but they knew it was him, and I’d been assaulted, but I hadn’t, I’d made the decision then not to report it. Anyway-

Churchill:

Somehow in your head, do you think up until the time that you opened up about it, were you somehow blaming yourself a bit? You know, putting the [crosstalk 00:59:02] responsibility?

Jason:

100%.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

100%. Shame, lot of shame, a lot of guilt, because it didn’t happen just once, it happened twice. So, the thought in my head then was, well, people will think it was me. It was all my fault. How could I let it happen once, never mind twice?

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

But this guy was a predator. You know, he’s for want of a better word, he’s a career paedophile. That’s what he is. A convicted paedophile. Anyway, so I made the complaint to the police, which was the first time my wife had heard exactly everything that happened, made my statement to the police in the UK. They were amazing, very understanding. Obviously, were open with me at start, “Look, these jobs don’t always get a result.” I said, “Well, I know that. I just want him to know that I know, you know.”

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

And he was in prison at the time for another similar offense, as it happened.

Churchill:

Really? Wow.

Jason:

Yeah. So, and when he was interviewed in prison about the offenses, he’d committed against me, he actually admitted them and-

Churchill:

Okay, yup.

Jason:

… which resulted in later in him going to court, crown court, and pleaded guilty, and was given a custodial sentence. Which is great, and an amazing result, but when I made my report, my complaint, the police over there asked me, or strongly recommended to me, not to undergo any meaningful treatment or therapy-

Churchill:

Really?

Jason:

… for what had happened to me. It sounds silly, sounds counterintuitive, and in some respects, I wish I hadn’t listened to them, now looking back. But the reason why they do that is if you’re called to give evidence in court, and your desensitized to that trauma, you might come across as disingenuous-

Churchill:

Oh, yeah.

Jason:

… and not an authentic victim-

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). [crosstalk 01:01:15]

Jason:

… which I understood.

Churchill:

So, you’d opened, you’d taken the lid off all of those long-buried feelings and you couldn’t actually do anything with them.

Jason:

Yeah. Pretty much yeah.

Churchill:

Oh my goodness.

Jason:

So, nine months of PTSD symptoms again. So, night terrors, you know, all that hyper vigilance, and a lot of pain in my brain, and I started to use alcohol to numb that pain to self-medicate. And I just drank more and more and more. And then, I then smoked some cannabis to help with it because I know with some people it does help. But then, you know, I was drinking plus the cannabis, and it was just getting excess with them more and more and more.

Jason:

Anyway, long story short, he was convicted in the April, last year. But by that I was a long way down that cycle of self-medication. I’d become depressed again. I’d lost my motivation to exercise.

Churchill:

And how was Emma handling the downward spiral?

Jason:

Because it was gradual, she’d obviously noticed things, but again, I was trying, I was in denial, I was trying to hide a lot of it and reassure her that, no, I’m fine, I’m fine, don’t worry about it, I’ll snap out of it. But obviously I wasn’t. And I went at the end of August last year, even though I’d been around the country talking at conferences and what have you, I was very highly functioning in the day, but by, you know, end of the day come, I was` hanging out for a drink, and yeah, it just came to a head at the end of August, beginning of September last year, I was really bad by this time.

Jason:

And I was, you know, for weeks I’d been thinking about suicide. I’d been thinking about how I could do it, and all of those things. I was fighting with those thoughts so hard, and then I woke up. Em and I’d had an argument, and I woke up the following morning and decided that that was the day I was going to take my life.

Jason:

Backup, I suppose, backup when you’re talking about Brendan. Actually, I’ve just remembered we were talking about Brendan before. Backup a couple of years before all this was happening, I was now the Vice President of Sirens of Silence, which Brendan took over from me.

Churchill:

Right.

Jason:

And I was Brendan’s peer support. So, when Brendan was struggling with the PTSD, and when he was embarking on speaking himself, I was his peer support. So, we’d be meeting regularly, he’d be sharing his experience, I’d be talking to him. And I was, yeah, I was there for him throughout that.

Jason:

So anyway, moving forward again, fourth of September last year, I’d decided that that was the day I was gonna end my life. I told Emma, I was off that day, and I told Emma I’m just going out for a walk, I needed to clear my head. I told her I loved her, I left the house, and I walked down to the beach, and I tried to drown myself. And in between attempts if you like, I phoned Brendan, of all people. I didn’t want him to talk me out of it. For some bizarre reason, I just wanted to… I actually phoned him, just to kind of almost ask him for validation, you know to, not ask him permission, but… I can’t remember much of the phone call to be honest.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

But Brendan was on duty that day, and he coordinated police patrol to come and grab me. So, I kind of mention him now when I present because I, he argues with me, but I say he helped save my life that day. But he says, I saved my life that day by phoning him, but I disagree. But we’ve become really good mates over the years. And I went from peer support to having Brendan now as my peer support.

Jason:

So, I went to hospital. The police picked me up, they took me to the hospital. I spent two weeks in hospital, and they were genuinely two of the best weeks of my life. That sounds strange. People say, “How can being in a mental health ward be two of the best weeks?” Well, the reason being is I got put in a safe space where I could almost reboot again. You know, I’ve got to withdraw from the alcohol. I got to detox. I was eaten and drinking cleanly and-

Churchill:

Yeah, you got to be nurtured and looked after and to-

Jason:

And I genuinely was. There was this-

Churchill:

… not have responsibilities on your shoulders for a while. Yeah, I can completely understand that.

Jason:

And I have such an amazing team. This is at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, in Perth. I had such an amazing team around me. The psychiatrists, two psychologists, a social worker, a welfare officer, all the nursing staff. I had an alcohol and drug nurse, a pharmacist, who would actually come in and explain what medications be, rather than just here’s a tablet, and the group work. And while I was there, I got to rediscover my love for art and writing again.

Churchill:

Creativity can be so healing.

Jason:

Yeah, and, you know, it would’ve, even though it was stressful for Emma, I know it was, she was worried about me terribly-

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

… but it would have given her the break from worrying about me. You know, she could go to bed at night and sleep knowing I’m safe, at least.

Churchill:

She knew you were I’m in the process of healing and being looked after. Yeah.

Jason:

So, I came out of hospital. I spent another two weeks off work, and work were really supportive. Again, when I went into hospital, I was scared about I’m going to lose my job, all these kinds of things. Work were really supportive. I had another two weeks at home where, what they call the hospital in the home team, come and visit you every day to see how you’re tracking. And then I went back to work on a return to work program. So, rather than go straight back into my normal role, I worked in human resources on an OHS project for a while, just to ease myself back into work.

Jason:

And then in that time obviously, I’ve done a whole heap of other work over the last 12 months with my psychologist, who is an absolute angel. She is amazing. And I’ve only just gone from seeing her every week to every month, after 12 months. So, I’ve gone through therapy and treatment, to maintenance, and now I’m in positive psychology space. And I’ve got to say I’m the strongest mentally I’ve been in over 10 years.

Churchill:

That’s fantastic, Jason.

Jason:

Yeah. And in that time, when I was coming good, obviously, I was in work and going through some self-development stuff. And my own workplace had offered me, or there was offer of a cert for in leadership management, but I wasn’t successful getting a place on that.

Churchill:

Right.

Jason:

So, I asked my manager if I could seek another alternative. And that’s when I came across Churchill.

Churchill:

So how did you find Churchill? Did you just Google?

Jason:

Yeah, Google, [crosstalk 01:10:10] Just a Google search.

Churchill:

Yep.

Jason:

And I might have come across Churchill on LinkedIn or something, I don’t know-

Churchill:

Okay.

Jason:

… that sparked my interest. But anyway, I did, got in contact with Kelly and, similar to Brendan’s process, I suppose. I just went through this awesome process of getting a list of evidence that I needed together, and given my, you know, history of being in the military and the police and, the public service. Got this portfolio of evidence together, submitted it, and I put in initially for the Diploma of Leadership Management.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

And then it came back that I was actually eligible for two others, as well, which was the Diploma in Workplace Health and Safety and a Diploma of Government Investigations. But I’d already got that qualification. And I was like, wow, this is amazing. And it came at a time where I was still in HR. I was just about to finish that project on health and safety on OHS and HR. I asked work if they would do that, would they support me in it. And they agreed to pay for that RPL process.

Churchill:

Well, that’s fantastic.

Jason:

Yeah, it was a real uplift in my spirit, I suppose. It came at such a good time because I was still very much in therapy and treatment.

Churchill:

[inaudible 01:11:54] The dates. So that was December last year-

Jason:

Yep.

Churchill:

… so that was only a couple of months after their conversation with Brendan, wasn’t it?

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

Wow.

Jason:

Yeah. [crosstalk 01:12:09]

Churchill:

I guess just show the power of opening up and getting the help that you need. It can turn things around quite quickly, can’t it?

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

And then the alternative is that you can live for years in hell or not live through hell.

Jason:

Yeah. And in that time, as well, work have been so supportive, you know, to the point where now, I’m one of the coordinators in my own department of the peer support program-

Churchill:

Yeah, right.

Jason:

… in my own work. And I’ve shared my story in work with my colleagues. And yeah, things have just lined up. You know, I’m really… it sounds weird, but being that low and attempting to take my life last year, it was a gift because I’ve been low before, I’ve been in bad places before, but that was the worst of them. And I’ll never, ever go back there again. I know it won’t, but it just, it sent me on this path of learning, and a journey on self-discovery. Where I’ve learned so much. You know, to the point where I’ve learned that the distance running that I used to think I loved was just self-punishment.

Churchill:

Right.

Jason:

It wasn’t really a passion. It was a punishment, it was how I would punish myself, you know. Whereas now, I haven’t run for a long time, but now I went back to my boxing roots-

Churchill:

Yeah. That’s great.

Jason:

… at a new club that opened up around the corner from me, which is a veteran and former first responder run club, train there., it’s a safe space. It’s amazing place to train. And I’ve since then, since Christmas time, just after Christmas, I now coach kids there, too.

Churchill:

Oh, fantastic.

Jason:

Yeah, so all of these things have lined up, you know, and Churchill have been part of that.

Churchill:

So, what did… so what have you done with the qualifications that you received? Had that been a stepping stone to anything?

Jason:

Well it certainly helped with my own development internally within the department. I don’t see me moving out of this department yet unless something… I’m a passionate workplace trainer, as well, and if something came up, inside or outside of the department that, you know, paid as well as I get paid now, and I could train other people and other organizations, that would probably be the only thing that would pull me away. But, and I’ve been open with my managers and my bosses about this, I have been an investigator now for over 20 years, including my policing career. And although it’s okay, it’s not what I’m passionate about anymore. So, I can do it standing on my head but-

Churchill:

Yeah.

Jason:

… my passion lies in helping other people learn, especially [crosstalk 01:15:35] around mental health.

Churchill:

Yeah, exactly. You’ve been through so much and, you know, I mean everything, no matter how bad, there is always an upside, isn’t there? And the upside to trauma is resiliency, and is empathy, isn’t it?

Jason:

Absolutely.

Churchill:

So of course, you’re not inspired by just doing government investigations. You know, you’ve got so much lived experience to offer people now and that space of resilience to come from and so much insight to offer people and-

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

… it’s so powerful isn’t it, to be able to offer lived experience and empathy.

Jason:

Yeah, and I’m hoping that along with the cert for mental health that I’ve got, the qualifications of going through Churchill that I can at least manufacture a sideways move within a department under our HR area or training arm. If not, you know, elsewhere, but I’m in no rush to do that, so to speak.

Jason:

So, I think that’s where these qualifications will help me, you know. It’s definitely part of my professional development or personal development. But you know, it lifted my spirituality, I suppose, my inner spirit, because my employer believed in me enough to back me going for the qualifications.

Churchill:

And then, I think that there’s something very self-validating about seeing your capabilities down on paper, formalized in national qualifications. There’s something mental about that, isn’t there?

Jason:

Well, I have been in leadership roles, you know, for many years, really. For almost 30 years, including a military career. So, yeah, it does validate that experience, you know. Having a diploma in leadership and management because I have been doing that, and doing it well and, but also trying to take a leadership role in the mental health space, as well. And then, mental health is now legalized on the OHS legislation. So, getting that diploma in workplace health and safety just bolsters that. And that side of things too. Because I’ve got a previous qualification from the UK in OHS, but the mental health side of stuff is only just been legalized recently in Australia under the OHS Act.

Jason:

So, it’s not just about physical safety, it’s about emotional and psychological safety in the workplace, too. So that’s where I’m hoping they can help me. And going through that process, and how easy it was when through my chats with Brendan and the things he’d been through, I said, “Well, Brendan, how about go contact Churchill. See what’s on offer, mate. You’ve got loads of experience see what they can do for you through the RPL process. It’s not difficult. You just got to get a portfolio of evidence together to satisfy the criteria to map that across for the qualification.” And that’s what he did.

Churchill:

Sounds it’s like you’re at the beginning of another really exciting chapter-

Jason:

I’m hoping so.

Churchill:

… in your life.

Jason:

I am hoping so. Things are moving in that way. And I’ve got some really great collaborations coming up. The other thing about my workplace that’s awesome, as well, they’ve allowed me secondary employment. So, I can work on that mental health space in my own time, outside of work without any, you know, as long as there’s no conflict of interest. So that’s what I’ve been doing, as well.

Churchill:

Yeah. That’s brilliant.

Churchill:

Jason, thank you so much for your time. It’s been so inspiring to speak with you-

Jason:

Thanks Leonie. I really appreciate it.

Churchill:

I’m really happy that Churchill got to play a part in your journey, a positive part. It’s really great to hear.

Jason:

I’m really thankful, and I applaud you and Churchill for sharing these stories, because they… lived experience and shared experience can inspire others. And if you’re doing that as an organization it’s only going to be, you know, not just beneficial for you as a business, but for other likeminded people that are looking maybe to transition out of services, or just develop themselves and gain further qualifications. To validate the experience that they’ve been doing in the service they’d been providing for others.

Jason:

I’ll keep recommending you guys and the team there because what you do, I think is really beneficial to people of our kind of background I think because-

Churchill:

Yeah, thanks so much Jason.

Jason:

In the services we’ve become very much institutionalized.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:

And you don’t, as Brendan says, you don’t gain, you know, a lot of qualifications out of it. You know, you know you’ve done good job, you know you’ve served the public, you know you’ve saved lives, but there isn’t a diploma in life saving on the street, you know. There isn’t a diploma in arresting people. There’s diploma in policing but you get that because you’ve gone through the and you’ve been a police officer. It’s the other things [crosstalk 01:24:15]

Churchill:

It’s a completely different system in a way, isn’t there? There’s the-

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

… there’s the civilian world, and then there’s the defence and police have their own separate microcosms, don’t they? And so-

Jason:

Yeah.

Churchill:

… what you’ve done in defence and police is not easily understood or appreciated by anybody, particularly prospective employers, outside of those microcosms.

Jason:

It’s true because when you’re in those services, you’re told that, you know, when you finally come out of the services, you’ll be looked upon as a shining example and people will be clambering after you to employ you. And in some respects that’s true, but it’s also what you… because it’s so insular, and you can’t really talk in detail about a lot of your experiences because they are quite traumatic, and they can be quite horrific, but the skills that you’ve, and the training that you’ve undergone to be able to do those jobs. Plus, the people that are drawn to do those jobs are drawn naturally, because they are service providers, they want to provide a service for the public, they want to make people safe. But that’s not, you know… it doesn’t always transfer out, as you said, because the civilian world doesn’t necessarily understand that services world.

Churchill:

No.

Jason:

It’s getting better, I think because we’re being a lot more open about those types of things. But, you know, that is what it is.

Churchill:

Yeah. Well, thanks again so much Jason.

Jason:

No problem at all.

END

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