Esperance Police officer sees army service as a 'defining' experience

Decades of public service: Esperance Police Senior Constable Matthew Gulland beside the war memorial on Dempster Street. Photo: Jake Dietsch.
Decades of public service: Esperance Police Senior Constable Matthew Gulland beside the war memorial on Dempster Street. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

"I believe and hold it to heart to this day that the army made me mature very quickly and turned me into the person I am today."

Those are the words of one of the newest members of the Esperance Police Station, Senior Constable Matthew Gulland.

Mr Gulland served for two years in the New Zealand army as soon as he left school in 1985.

He served locally after completing three months of basic training.

"Over those two years, I grew up and matured a lot from the army," Mr Gulland said.

"It taught me to do all sorts of things; To iron, sew, cook, to look after myself, to think for myself and to make critical decisions.

"It was defining and pivotal for me."

Sen. Const. Gulland went on to pursue a 15-year career in corrective services, working in a New Zealand prison for eight years and a Northern Territory prison for a further seven.

"I really enjoyed it right up to the day I left, especially in the Northern Territory," he said.

"When I walked in the prison, the people knew me and the prisoners knew me."

Sen. Const. Gulland found his experience in the army equipped him to communicate and manage tough situations within the prison.

"Over the years, I worked in the different areas of the prisons. I worked in a specialised unit in the Christchurch Men's Prison called the dedicated care unit.

"That was there specifically for the people they labelled 'the criminally insane'."

Sen. Const. Gulland said there were intensive rehabilitation programs in that unit and he was sure he was able to make a difference with some of the prisoners.

In October of 2007, Sen. Const. Gulland joined WA Police and was first stationed in the city.

Once again, he found the skills and values of the army equipped him for his new career.

Sen. Const. Gulland has been in Esperance for less than a month and said he was "absolutely looking forward" to his time here. He said he planned to stay for the maximum four-year period.

He said he hoped to leave Esperance Police with a promotion to sergeant.

Sen. Const. Gulland said both his armed services career and his police career had given him a better understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who put their lives on the line to ensure our freedoms.

"ANZAC Day to me is a representation day of honouring those that paid the ultimate sacrifice, so that we can live the way that we lead our lives today," he said

"People have sacrificed their lives so that we can live in a free country today."

For information on what's on in Esperance for this ANZAC Day click here.