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Top cop served in unpredictable times

The Black Summer bushfires, the Bali bombings, the shot-down flight MH17. Andrew Colvin was there to help spearhead Australia’s response.

The former Australian Federal Police commissioner has been appointed an Officer of the Order (AO) of Australia in this year’s honours list for his distinguished service to law enforcement, counter-terrorism initiatives and bushfire recovery projects.

Notably, Mr Colvin co-ordinated the AFP’s response to the deadly 2002 Bali bombings – Australians made up 88 of the 202 casualties – as national counter-terrorism boss.

He was also involved in the AFP’s response to the MH17 flight disaster, where a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014, killing 38 Australians.

He left the force after his 30-year career in 2019, having completed a five-year tenure as commissioner.

After his retirement from policing, Mr Colvin led Australia’s large-scale bushfire recovery effort following the 2019-20 Black Summer, which included addressing the health needs and infrastructure rebuild from the devastating fires.

Mr Colvin said the bushfire recovery role opened his eyes to the struggles of Australians living in regional and rural areas.

“That role had a huge impact on me, and I constantly reflect on those experiences and hope the victims of those fires are not forgotten amongst the unpredictable times we are living in,” he said.

“I’ve always cared deeply about people and serving our community … whether it was the Bali bombings, ensuring support for the families of the MH17 tragedy, or the bushfires. Being recognised for what I have done for this country is special, and I know I still have much more to give.”

Mr Colvin was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2003. He also received the Australian Police Medal in 2008.

Mr Colvin said the latest “humbling” honour was a testament to the support of his family and colleagues.

“This is special for my family who really have sacrificed a lot and have ridden the rollercoaster that comes with having a family member in those roles,” he said.

“Of course, in public service you do not achieve anything in isolation of the support and people you have around you – so this recognition is very much about them as well.”

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