Australia

Police sick leave spike linked to stress

Sick leave among Victoria Police officers has almost doubled in the past two years, with the upward trend attributed to increased stress on the beat.

Victoria's "suck-it-up" police culture is seemingly on the wane, with the force taking more than 70,000 sick days in the past year.

Victoria Police's annual report shows 72,775 lost shifts were recorded over the 2016-17 financial year, up from 54,831 in 2015-16 and 38,662 in 2014-15.

These statistics represent an 88 per cent spike in unscheduled leave claims over a two-year span and authorities have conceded stress levels are partly responsible.

"The increased awareness of mental health issues is considered healthy and the increase in claims was foreseen," Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Luke Cornelius said in a statement on Tuesday.

Physical injuries and assaults that commonly occur during the course of duty boosted the figures, Mr Cornelius said.

Police Minister Lisa Neville believes a cultural change has freed up police officers and Protective Service Officers to speak up about work-related mental demons.

"Police tended to have a 'suck-it-up' culture and that often resulted, unfortunately, in very long-term leave or in the worse cases, suicide," the minister told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

"We're starting to see police officers feeling they can seek help."

The Victorian Police Association echoed Ms Neville's claim and noted the community's continual mistreatment of law enforcers on the beat.

"The statistical information suggests there's (been) a 25 per cent increase over the last three years in assaults against police and emergency service workers," secretary Wayne Gatt told ABC Radio.

"We always knew that policing was a stressful and confronting job.

"We're seeing that (mental health) stigma broken down over time and a degree of mental health literacy and education amongst police officers that's given rise to them feeling more capable of putting their hand up."