International Women and Law Enforcement Conference

Host Organisations: The International Association of Women Police (IAWP), the Australasian Council of 
Women and Policing (ACWAP), supported by the Queensland Police Service (QPS). 


Debbie Platz
Assistant Commissioner, Australia Federal Police
President, Australian Council of Women and Policing

The annual International Women and Law Enforcement Conference was hosted at the Cairns Convention 
Centre in September 2017. The conference reached sell out capacity attracting 1,080 registrations from law 
enforcement officers, police forces and other agencies around the world.

Debbie Platz, ACWAP President said, “The Cairns Convention Centre was at the forefront of the conference 
planning from the very beginning. The staff established a fabulous working relationship with our Steering 
Committee and the assistance they provided was paramount to our successful bid.” 

“From an international marketing perspective, Cairns was a wonderful destination with the Great Barrier 
Reef and the rainforest. We had Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin as patrons, which was another drawcard.”

Terri Irwin, said “I have always supported our law enforcement and emergency services both locally, 
nationally and internationally. The contribution that each and every one of them make to the safety and 
security of our communities is commendable and we are honoured to be able to support this very important 

The Conference started with a Parade of Nations through the streets of Cairns which were flooded with 
colour as members marched behind their nation’s flag towards the Convention Centre to the official 
opening. Each country was led by Cairns school girls who acted as their flag bearer. 

As a thank you to the school girls, the organisers hosted a development seminar with speakers Bindi Irwin; 
AFP Commissioner, Andrew Colvin; and Australia’s Commissioner for Mental Health, Nicole Gibson.

Debbie Platz said that she saw a marked difference in many of the school girls’ level of interest following the 
seminar, seeing this change just proved to me what a difference we can make to the community. Photos with 
Bindi Irwin and the other speakers also proved popular with the students.

“Logistically the Convention Centre was a great venue because all the delegates were staying within easy
walking distance, we were able to have events indoors and outdoors and the staff were very professional,” 
she added. 

Networking is a vital part of the International Conference on Women in Law Enforcement. It started with a 
taste of Australia at the Welcome Reception on the Outdoor Plaza at the Convention Centre providing an opportunity for international delegates to experience aboriginal culture, Australian wildlife and Cairns 
friendly tropical hospitality. 

The IAWP Awards Luncheon, ACWAP Awards Dinner and Conference Farewell Dinner were also held at the 
Convention Centre. The 2018 hosts, Calgary Police Service, held their host night at Cairns number one party 
venue, the world famous Woolshed.

A partner program for guests was offered to experience Skyrail Rainforest Cable Way, Green Island Great 
Barrier Reef, Rainforestation Nature Park and Cairns Aquarium. Extensive pre and post touring itineraries 
were also taken up by delegates and their families.

Debbie Platz said, “Delegates have been raving about the Conference, every day we get emails from people 
thanking us for hosting it and saying how inspired they were by the sessions, listening to other women 
sharing their common experiences. 

“We were delighted to be able to invite law enforcement officers from around the world the share this 
conference and what Cairns has to offer.”

Event Legacy: Uniforms 4 Kids 

As an important legacy the conference provided the ideal opportunity to launch a new charity called 
Uniforms for Kids. Australian police forces can now hand in uniforms they no longer wear, which are re-made 
into kids’ clothes and distributed by the police to people in need in Indigenous communities, rural and 
Pacific Rim areas.


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