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UC and AFP to collaborate on specialised strength and conditioning research and education

Kailey Tonini

13 September 2023: A new five-year collaborative agreement between the University of Canberra and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will see a shared focus on enhancing the performance and wellbeing of the AFP’s Specialist Operations members and enrich educational and placement opportunities for some of the University’s postgraduate students.

University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise Professor Lucy Johnston and AFP Specialist Operations Commander Geoff Turner signed the agreement at the Majura Police Complex HQ on 30 August.

Built on a rich history of collaboration, the agreement seeks to integrate specialised research and modern evidence-based techniques into the training and development of Specialist Operations personnel.

The research will focus on developing physical assessment measures for the AFP’s Specialist Operations members to better understand personnel’s capabilities and physical requirements.

"Our collaboration with the Australian Federal Police underscores the importance of evidence-based approaches in law enforcement. By leveraging scientific insights, we aspire to empower Specialist Operations personnel to perform their best while ensuring their wellbeing,” said Professor Johnston. “Our collaborative agreement with the AFP will also provide greater depth in the education and practical experience in our Master of Strength and Conditioning course.”

Commander Turner said that the AFP is committed to providing its Specialist Operations members with the best tools to excel in their roles.

"This collaboration with the University of Canberra is a testament to our dedication to staying at the forefront of advancements in training and performance enhancement," he said.

The University’s Professor in Sport and Exercise Science, Dr Nick Ball will lead the collaboration in close partnership with Ben Norcott, Operational Response Head of Physical Performance at the AFP. The research projects and educational aspects will take further shape as the partnership progresses.

“This is a really exciting partnership for UC that will allow us to share our expert knowledge and research capability with the AFP, but also open up new opportunities for our strength and conditioning (S&C) postgraduate students to develop their skills in occupation-related S&C practice – which is a growing area of specialisation,” he said.

Occupational strength and conditioning involves training and preparation tailored to the physical demands of a profession. Emergency services are seeing a rise in demand for specialised strength and conditioning due to the physical challenges associated with jobs and incidences of workplace injury, but other sectors that would benefit from such training include nursing, carpentry and personal training.

“Our students have great experiences working with local sporting clubs and organisations for strength and conditioning in a sporting context, but this agreement with the AFP will further their practical knowledge and experience in occupational S&C, and the AFP’s requirements in this area.”