Meet Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys, AFP’s longest serving female officer

“I joined the AFP so I could help the wider community and have a career where I was doing something different, every day."

The AFP is celebrating the achievements of its female workforce for International Women’s Day 2024, including highlighting its longest serving female officer whose four-decade career has taken her around the world.

Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys, who was awarded the Australian Police Medal (APM) in 2017, has experienced a colourful and rewarding 42-year career with the AFP, including as the first female officer at international postings such as The Hague, Netherlands and in her current role as AFP Senior Officer Pretoria, South Africa.

Image: Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys in Canberra 1983 (Source: AFP)

Det-Supt Humphrys said:

“I joined the AFP so I could help the wider community and have a career where I was doing something different, every day. I think that is still the case today and why I love the job so much. I have been blessed to work across diverse areas with amazingly talented people along the journey; and that motivates me every day.”

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Joining the AFP in Victoria in June 1981, Det-Supt Humphrys was one of the first female officers to work in surveillance in Melbourne.

Image: Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys on the cover of ACWAP 2000 (Source: AFP)

Notable highlights from her extensive career include managing an investigation into the theft of dinosaur eggs in country Victoria, leading the team that laid Australia’s first sexual servitude and slavery charges in 2003 under Operation Tennessee in Melbourne, and undertaking an official interview with a witness in four different languages on the ground in Ukraine following the downing of MH17.

Image: Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta (Source: AFP)

Det-Supt Humphrys said other memorable situations included serving as the AFP Liaison Officer in Washington, providing security at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and spending three days lost in a Brazilian jungle while climbing the Pico da Pedra D’Agua mountain in November 2009, which resulted in her being rescued via helicopter.

Image: Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys at the Hague 1997 (Source: AFP)

She observes:

“I’ve never been so happy to be dangling 50 feet under a helicopter in all my life.  I am forever grateful that I came out of that situation alive.”

Det-Supt Humphrys said events such as International Women’s Day were crucial to ensuring women were acknowledged and supported in their organisations.

Image: Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys with the East Timor Police Commissioner 2001 (Source: AFP)

She reflected on the changes in policing since she started her career.

“It took seven years before I worked with another female member on a shift. There were a handful of other women in the job in the early years, but it was very few, certainly never enough to actually be on shift together.”

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Det-Supt Humphrys said one of the most rewarding aspects of her work with the AFP was being able to share her experience with other members to help them grow, develop and showcase their own skills and ideas in policing. 

“There are countless opportunities and a colourful future ahead for any woman considering a career with the AFP, or with other law enforcement agencies.”

Image: Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys in Suai 2001 (Source: AFP)

Det-Supt Humphrys adds:

“My advice for applicants is to seek opportunities, look for things that are a challenge, put yourself out there, be resilient and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Learn every day you come to work, and thrive in your own achievements, no matter how small.”

Image: Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys with a Dutch Police robot 2019 (Source: AFP)

Det-Supt Humphrys said it was important that officers never underestimated their contributions to the job.

“Teamwork is critical to our success; we are all part of not only a small team but the bigger team, the bigger AFP family. You may have a bad day every now and again but over the journey, I have seen the AFP grow and evolve into an amazing organisation, with really talented high-quality members – and I say that from a position where I have worked across multiple jurisdictions all over the world.”

Image: Detective Superintendent Andrea Humphrys in Cyprus 1998 (Source: AFP)

Today, more than 40 per cent of the AFP’s workforce is female. The AFP has a total of 8022 members in both sworn and unsworn roles across Australia and overseas (as at 23 February, 2024) and 3312 of them are women.

There are currently 1019 women in the AFP’s sworn (police, PSO, and recruit roles) workforce (consisting of 23.8 per cent of the sworn workforce), and 2293 women in the unsworn workforce (consisting of 61.4 per cent of the unsworn workforce).

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