Three AFP officers recognised in Australia Day Honours list

Three Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers, with almost a century of policing experience between them, have today been named on the 2018 Australia Day Honours list.

Detective Superintendent Damien Appleby, acting Detective Superintendent Melissa Northam and former Commander Susan Thomas will each receive the Australian Police Medal in recognition of their work across a broad range of AFP operational areas.

AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin congratulated the officers on their award and thanked them for their service to both the AFP and the Australian community.

“The work of the three recipients, both in Australia and overseas, is reflective of the broad responsibilities of the AFP,” Commissioner Colvin said.

“The Australian Police Medal is awarded for distinguished service by a member of an Australian police force. I congratulate Sue, Mel and Des for their outstanding contributions to policing, which are well deserving of this recognition today,” he said.

Detective Superintendent Appleby joined the AFP in 1991 and is currently the AFP Senior Liaison Officer in Hong Kong. He has worked as an investigator across various operational areas within the AFP including Drug Operations, Fraud and Organised Crime, transnational sexual exploitation and Counter Terrorism. Detective Superintendent Appleby also assisted in an investigation that disrupted a terrorist attack in Australia and the international humanitarian mission after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 over Ukraine in 2014.

Detective Acting Superintendent Northam began her career with the Victorian Police in 1985, before joining the AFP in 1995. She is currently Acting Superintendent State Manager Darwin. Her career has allowed her to perform leadership liaison and advisory roles in overseas postings. Of particular significance is her role as Operational Commander in Bangkok at the time of the Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day, 2004. She has also worked extensively in child exploitation teams and has been a strong advocate for women in the AFP, receiving the prestigious Bev Lawson Memorial Award for outstanding leadership and achievements in policing by the Australasian Council of Women in Policing in 2013.

Former Commander Thomas has had a distinguished career in the AFP since joining in 1983. She retired from the organisation in November 2017. In advocating as a leader for cultural change and playing a key role in implementing the recommendations from the AFP’s Cultural Change Report, Commander Thomas’ final role was Manager Reform. Spanning her career, Commander Thomas achieved various leadership and investigative roles for Drug Operations; Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Intelligence and performed the role of the AFP’s Senior Liaison Officer in Beijing.

Detective Superintendent Appleby, Detective Acting Superintendent Northam and former Commander Thomas will receive their medals from the Governor-General at a later date.

Editors’ note: Biographies and photographs of Detective Superintendent Damien Appleby, acting Detective Superintendent Melissa Northam, and former Commander Susan Thomas are available via the link below.

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