'I work in protection for the Australian Federal Police. Here's everything I do in a day.'

Thanks to our brand partner, AFP

Since she was a young girl, Allira Searle had always dreamed of working for the police. She had a specific interest in the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and straight after finishing year 12 she joined the First Nations Directions Traineeship Program. And she's never looked back. 

"The diversity and opportunities are brilliant, and you have the chance to try out a bunch of different things and find which area fits great for you. And the people I've met have been wonderful," Allira tells Mamamia.

Since 2013 Allira has been with the AFP, working in both professional and operational roles as a Protective Service Officer (PSO). 

"I still vividly remember my first day on the job. I was sent to a court case going through the High Court and I remember standing there as a PSO. There was a lot of energy and media hype for the specific case — it was very exciting for a first day!" says Allira. 

11 years on, she is the wife of a police officer, a mum of two children (a two-year-old and a 10-month-old) and she's back into her full-time PSO role and loving it. For a bit of background, the AFP is Australia's national policing agency and they offer more than 200 career options, and a workforce that is situated in the ACT, other metro cities, regional locations and overseas.

Watch: Protective Service Officer Allira Searle talks opportunities within the Australian Federal Police (AFP), filmed in her previous role as instructor. Post continues below.

Video via YouTube

"At the moment I work 8am to 4pm and there's flexibility with that depending on family life. If I need to do a kid drop-off in the morning to childcare, it's completely fine. In my line of work, it's really flexible, and so coming back full-time from maternity leave has been amazing — two days in the office and three days at home," she says.

"There is also the option of part-time work or job sharing, so I felt confident being able to juggle home and work."

As for what a day in the life looks like for a PSO, Allira says a lot of the skills necessary for the work she does are very transferable and broad. 

"I am currently working in the Operations Exercise Team within the Specialist Protective Command. So my team is responsible for enhancing the interoperability and preparedness of the AFP and its external stakeholders through the practice of exercising. This role has been a lot of fun stepping into the area of emergency management and working with all different areas of the AFP, including our international partners."

Protective Service Officer Allira Searle. Image: Australian Federal Police.


Allira is often given a list of objectives and then her team will develop, design and deliver training that will test those sorts of objectives, then providing an evaluation report with observations. 

"The day-to-day is busy as we're servicing such a large portfolio as well, so that keeps me busy for a large chunk of the shift. Our area also really promotes a healthy lifestyle, so we do two gym sessions a week together as a team which really boost morale. Then it's sitting down, going through tasks, looking at what resources we need and planning training for other areas."

Though Allira's unit specifically enjoys participating in fitness activities together, not all areas of the AFP require major physical skills and fitness. Fortunately, there's a wide and diverse range of roles.

As crime is increasingly fought online, the AFP's work increasingly requires strength in communication, problem solving and emotional intelligence skills. 

Another misconception Allira sometimes faces is that policing in general is often seen as a very 'masculine' career.


"There's so many amazing women in the AFP, and I've never felt like I couldn't apply for something because it was a quote-unquote 'man's job' or something like that. I've always been given equal opportunities, plus we have a very balanced proportion of genders in the organisation, so that's great," she says.

Originally from a really small rural town in New South Wales, Allira says her family and friends there are all super proud of the work she does. 

"It's so nice to have their support, and I think as a young person saying, 'This is what I want to do,' and then following through with that, my mum is really proud. Whenever I meet new people as well they're always pretty interested when I tell them I work for the AFP, they often say, 'That's such a cool job,'" she tells Mamamia

"They're often interested in how I got the job."

As for the specifics in terms of requirements to enter the agency, it varies. There are a series of ways to get into the AFP, notes Allira, to suit different levels of ability or interest. This includes sworn entry level recruitment, lateral policing recruitment, as well as a range of other programs for specialist and corporate support staff. 

For Allira, she studied a Bachelor of Public Safety and Security, studying that part-time while she was a PSO, and now she's halfway through a Master of Emergency Management. But you don't necessarily need a tertiary education to work for the AFP, with the focus takes into consideration your experience, soft skills and relevant attributes. 

As a recruit, your average starting salary starts at around $53,500 while you're going through PSO recruit training, and your uniforms, meals and accommodation are included. Once you graduate and gain experience, that salary rises to $72,690, with penalties, overtime and super added on top. 


"The opportunities to pick up extra work and hours here and there is a perk many rarely know about," says Allira.

Allira also notes other additional allowances for working in remote locations like Pine Gap (NT), Geraldton (WA) and Exmouth (WA).

"Another fun part is being able to travel with the job, as they have lots of bases across the country and also overseas. So for example, I've literally travelled across Australia following government officials, or doing events like the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, even being part of the security package for King Charles and Queen Camilla."

Ultimately, if there's one core skill that makes someone a great fit for this sort of work it has to be resilience, says Allira. Someone who enjoys developing their communication, conversing with a broad range of people, mentoring others, being adaptable and passionate would be the ideal candidate. 

As for what the future looks like for Allira, she feels very happy in her bubble right now. But she has big goals long-term for her career in the AFP too.

"I've been really lucky to have been given a lot of opportunities, and I've now really found a love for training. I definitely want to stay in a training role and sort of progress into a team leader position because I love emergency management. The world's your oyster, really."

Find your pathway to a rewarding career with the Australian Federal Police.

Feature Image: Supplied. 

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