THE former commanding officer of the Shoalhaven Police Local Area Command, Detective Superintendent Wayne Starling said he was honoured to receive the Australian Police Medal (APM) in this year’s Australia Day honours.
Currently the commanding officer of the Lake Illawarra Local Area Command, Det Supt Starling was recognised for his service to the force.
The man affectionately known as “Starlo”, played a prominent role while based in the Shoalhaven.
Always approachable he was heavily involved in a number of community events and was well-respected within the local area.
Working tirelessly, he was seen as a trailblazer with many of his initiatives and throughout his career demonstrated a genuine and compassionate commitment to improving the quality of life for indigenous communities as well as being a strong advocate for his staff.
“I’m extremely proud of this honour,” he said.
“I love being a police officer and it has been very good to me.
“I’ve been in the force for 35 years and have been lucky enough to work with a lot of good people.
“I’ve had numerous mentors over the years who have worked with me to develop into the officer I am today.”
He said he loved his time in the Shoalhaven and would be forever grateful for the community support he received.
“The Shoalhaven is a wonderful place and has a special place in my heart,” he said.
“I loved being able to be part of that community.
“The support I received was tremendous.”
He played down his role, saying he has been no different to any other officer or emergency service personnel.
“We all try to do the best we can, in the situations we are faced with,” he said.
“I’m just doing my job.
“I have been given some tremendous opportunities through the job and hopefully I have been able to make a difference to the people I have encountered and worked with.
“I really admire the frontline police, the men and women who are out there each and every day, often copping it and doing the best they can.
“My role is to support and protect them.”
He paid credit to his wife Kylie, who herself was a police officer, but gave it away to raise their family and allow him to concentrate on his career.
“Kylie and the family have definitely made sacrifices to allow me to pursue my career and I’m extremely grateful for that,” he said.
Australia day has always been a tough time for Det Supt Starling.
His mother died on Australia Day, which just happened to also be his 21st birthday.
“It’s been a sad day for me and a day I’ve never really enjoyed,” he said.
“This won’t bring her back but it will allow me to think about her and how proud she would have been seeing me get this award.”