‘Praise three times a week’: AFP red-faced after boss’s Gen Z comment

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw says he has a professional relationship with PwC partner Mick Fuller.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw says he has a professional relationship with PwC partner Mick Fuller. Photo: AAP

The Australian Federal Police have issued a denial after the nation’s top federal officer appeared to tell senators that some young people need praise “three times a week”.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw made the comments at a Senate estimates committee hearing on Thursday, saying there was a massive divide in how different generations needed to be managed at work.

Asked about the force’s efforts to attract and retain people, Mr Kershaw said younger workers required more praise from their supervisors.

“We learned that Gen Z, the younger generation, need three times a week praise from their supervisors; the next generation only need three times a year and my generation only need once a year,” he said.

Mr Kershaw said the force had had to change its communication, and how it marketed the job.

“I saw some emojis that Gen Z use, that is actually offensive, but my generation use these emojis,” he said.

“The world’s changing, I guess … you know a happy face – that can actually mean the opposite in Gen Z land.”

Early on Friday, however, the AFP released a brief statement denying Mr Kershaw had dissed Australia’s young people.

“Reports that AFP commissioner believes different generations require different level of praise are incorrect. The commissioner was referring to information recently presented to a policing forum,” it said.

Reece Kershaw at Senate estimates

Thursday’s hearing was also told a survey had found 13 per cent of AFP staff had experienced bullying or harassment.

This had fallen from 21 per cent in 2018, after the AFP took action to improve its culture.

Mr Kershaw likened the AFP to a Swiss army knife that was multifunctional, inventive, and durable.

“There are not many police forces around the world that have the mission of the Australian Federal Police,” he said.

On a more chilling level, Mr Kershaw also revealed that the national database contains more than 1800 threat letters.

Last year, almost three-quarters of threatening letters received were sent to politicians, public servants, foreign embassies, consulates or high commissions.

The database had provided “key evidentiary value” that led to police laying charges, Mr Kershaw said.

The AFP also had an officer deployed to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to help prosecute and investigate crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Ukraine.

The force was also assisting Europol to investigate war crimes committed by terrorist organisation ISIS against the Yazidi people in the Middle East.

“We are represented at the United Nations, shaping Australia’s engagement in police peacekeeping and transnational crime issues, advancing our national interests in the world’s largest multilateral organisation,” Mr Kershaw said.

The commissioner welcomed increased funding from the federal government for the AFP’s operations in the Pacific region, which included working together with neighbouring police forces.

-with AAP

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