Wade Noonan’s time out to heal from personal exposure to the daily horrors of crime will be a tough period, according to former Victorian police minister Kim Wells.
Mr Wells says he understands the difficulties faced by Mr Noonan who is taking three months off to deal with the “unspeakable crimes and traumatic events” he was exposed to every day as police minister.
Dealing with the death of Luke Batty and learning of the appalling details of pedophilia took their toll during his time as Mr Noonan’s predecessor in 2013 and 2014, Mr Wells said on Tuesday.
In one case his staff told him to read just the first four pages of a brief because the material was too awful.
According to another former Victorian police minister, Andre Haermeyer, having to constantly deal with such material can have a cumulative impact.
“If you’re getting a barrage of it, it can push you psychologically and emotionally,” he told AAP.
“The minister is reading that stuff all the time and it’s like Chinese water torture.
Only too accustomed to the private rigours of political life himself, former Victorian premier and Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett says he’s “very disappointed” in those who believe Mr Noonan somehow weak for seeking help.
“It shows that most of those making those comments are not very well educated about how individuals might relate to certain circumstances,” Mr Kennett told AAP on Tuesday.
“He’s not a first responder but he will have had access to material that he will have found disturbing, and it doesn’t matter that’s a hundred incidents or whether it’s five or six.”
Mr Haermeyer said constant briefings about the worst aspects of human nature, including Melbourne’s gangland war and local terror investigations in the post-September 2001 world, crossed his desk.
“One drop is nothing but it just doesn’t stop and it’s all you’re copping a lot of the time and you’ve got to explain to the public what is happening but you can’t say everything.”
Mr Wells said Luke Batty’s death and a case where two police officers were stabbed had been hard to deal with as minister.
“The thing that affected me more than anything was the issue around pedophilia and those rings, and they’re targeting young boys and in some cases young girls,” he told AAP.
“You do get a lot of detail around that. You wouldn’t get down into the really nitty-gritty stuff but there would be enough there to say, `Oh my God, this is an awful situation, what more can we do to shut this down?'”
Finance and Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott will manage Mr Noonan’s Police and Corrections portfolios, while Footscray MP Marsha Thomson will look after Mr Noonan’s constituents in the neighbouring Williamstown seat.
Premier Daniel Andrews, Victoria Police chief Graham Ashton, Police Association secretary Ron Iddles and the opposition have all pledged their support for Mr Noonan.