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Women at Work: Shona Davis

HerCanberra Team

Complicated personnel logistics, high-level decision-making and attending crime scenes.

These are just some of the tasks Shona Davis might undertake in her day-to-day work as an Acting Sergeant in the Australian Federal Police (AFP). As head of a Belconnen Response Team in ACT Policing, Shona and her colleagues attend any and all incidents that happen in the Belconnen area.

Shona joined the AFP 17 years ago in 2000, moving interstate to Canberra after seeing a recruitment round advertised in a newspaper ad. For Shona, the AFP held the potential of mobility and flexibility as it operates in all states across a variety of different areas such as organised crime, cyber investigations and intelligence.

“Because the AFP is local, national and international, it was very exciting for me as a 23-year-old to think that I could be doing anything in any part of the country or the world,” she says.

For Shona, however, Canberra became home and job flexibility materialised in other ways.

“I commenced in ACT Policing and I fell in love with it,” she explains. “It’s basically where I’ve stayed for the past 17 years. [However], I did do a transfer out to Christmas Island in 2006 and then to Thursday Island in 2009.”

These transfers came as Shona’s husband, who also works for the AFP, was posted there.

“I was on maternity leave for a lot of it, but I worked remotely for ACT Policing there too, so I was able to develop a flexible work arrangement with my bosses in the ACT so I could stay in the workforce whilst I was deployed with my husband.”

Shona also sings the praises of her management team who supported her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.

“I had to go off and have surgery and treatment and I was supported then,” she says. “But I’m even more supported now that I’m working operationally because my management team make allowances for me to [still] go off and have treatment. There’s nothing [they] can’t manage. Whatever is going on in your personal life, they can handle it.”

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Shona with her daughters

Shona’s career might be the envy of many, but she understands the reservations some women may have about applying for the AFP or similar organisations, as she had them herself initially.

“The only thing that I was concerned about was the firearms component of training,” she says with a laugh. “I had never been exposed to a firearm in my life and a 23 year old female coming in I wondered if I would be able to meet the requirements. But obviously, the AFP is very supportive and has very professional training teams so we managed to get through that part no problems at all!”

Shona explains that due to the locational and shift work aspects, some people with families might be put off applying for positions at a law enforcement agency, however, she says that while she didn’t have that challenge when she joined, she’s been pleasantly surprised by the level of support given to parents.

“I was supported by a wonderful management team when my children were really young and I couldn’t do shift work,” she explains. “I was given lots of opportunities to do different roles that broadened my experience and gave me exposure to a lot of the strategy and corporate side of policing.”

After exploring those roles, Shona took the opportunity to go back into operational policing and shift work when it suited her.

“I had the option to work across multiple teams so I didn’t have to work a full shift work roster,” she explains. “It’s not as bad as everyone thinks – we have lots of days off and lots of time away from work.”

As for words of encouragement for women who have always wanted to pursue a career in the AFP or similar agencies, she says “if I can do it, anyone can do it.”

“I’m 163cm tall. So I’m not the tallest and I’m not the strongest on my team but if I can do it and stay safe then anyone can.”

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