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NT Police Legacy from the 'Heart of a Legator'

NTPL Article – Tony Fuller, Cubillo Legator 

When I joined the Police Force in 1986, I recall a gruff Sergeant addressing my squad telling us all about something called legacy and the police association. I wasn’t paying much attention to Sergeant Carter that day but I recall that this angry Sergeant wanted me to pay each week into some fund and everybody did it.

As a 19 year old trainee Constable I really did not see that I would need it, but hey Sergeant Carter said it was a good idea, so I did what Sergeant Carter told me. Many years later in Drug Squad I learnt that Sergeant Carter was not always right and we had some interesting let’s say, events, however we always remained friends and his intentions were always good. He was right to make me sign up on that day so many years ago.

In my 30 years of service, 2 members have been killed on duty or died as a result of their duties, another 25 have died whilst serving. Sadly at least 6 of these took their own lives, but that is a conversation for another day.

The majority of these people I either worked with or have known at some stage over my career. All leave behind family, friends and work colleagues who miss them.

One such member is Aboriginal Community Police Officer Alberto “Bert” Cubillo who passed away in April 2008 after a long battle with cancer. I was not a close friend of Bert but I knew of his struggles with cancer and his dedication to his work, which I still marvel over today. I was however a friend to his wife, Teri Cubillo, who was, and remains a close friend of my wife having met each other in their sporting endeavours and mutual friends outside the NT Police Force. It was through these relationships that I knew their three young daughters Demi, Abby and Tyla, now young ladies.  

Like most in the NT Police Force I contribute to NT Police Legacy each pay, and as I said earlier, not fully comprehending what I was really contributing too. I never expected that it would have such an impact on me or my relationship with a fellow officer’s family the way it has.

When Bert passed away, I was asked to have a talk with Teri and explain to her the functions of NT Police Legacy and that she should appoint someone in the NT Police Force as the Legator for herself and her daughters.  I was not expecting her response when Teri asked me to take on this role, to be honest, I was quite shocked in that I was not a close workmate of Bert’s and I was very apprehensive not knowing what it really entailed and whether I was up to the responsibility of taking on such an important role in supporting and mentoring their daughters.  I am quite honoured and glad she had the faith in me to take on the role.  

I could not have asked for a better family to support. Each of the girls are amazing in their own right and Teri is such a strong devoted parent who is quite inspiring to those who know her. I think I get more out of the relationship keeping an eye on the girls and watching them grow, than they do from me.  

More recently I got to watch Abby on the internet at 5 in the morning, as she represented Australia in the Women’s Under 17 Basketball Championships. They won the world title that morning and Abby has since been selected to travel with the Australian Womens under 19 squad.

Whilst a great and proud moment for all, it’s the other opportunities you get catching up and having a chat to see how they are travelling that are rewarding in themselves.   Like checking up on Demi in Bali when she was over there for schoolies or toolies, one of the two or seeing Tyla down at the footy supporting the Muk Muks as her mother runs water for the team.

NT Police Legacy has provided support to the girls in a number of ways over the years, however Teri has never asked for support and in fact I get quite frustrated reminding her that we are here to assist, such is the strength of her and her girls.

To me being a Legator is not about being a replacement for, or reminder of a missing parent, these girls already have great male role models in their lives such as their Uncle Scrubber and their long time family friend and basketball coach, Rod Tremlett,

It is simply about being a close friend to the family and a gentle reminder to them that they have a bigger family out there who will offer and provide support to them if they need it. The best thing as a Legator is you know that the support is there and you can ensure the family receives it, if they need it.  

My message is don’t think of your payroll deduction to NT Police Legacy as just another deduction, or a donation, think of it as paying a gift forward to our wider Police family and pray your family never needs it, but be comfortable in the knowledge that if it is needed, the support will be there.