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Awarded for service to Police, service to Sport and Recreation
Entered on roll: 2005
She was a good cop. She was hard. She was straight. She was fair. (Justice Pierre Slicer, Australian Story, ABC TV, 1997)
Heather Innes was born in Smithton and educated at Smithton Primary and High Schools. She competed in javelin competitions, gaining selection in the Tasmanian junior and senior teams, which led to selection in the Australian team.
At age 17, Heather was selected to represent Australia in javelin events at the 1956 Olympics. This was an amazing feat for a young girl from a remote Tasmanian town with minimal sports facilities. Heather also competed in the Australian Women’s Track and Field Championships in 1957-58.
Heather joined Tasmania Police in 1961 and was stationed in Hobart. In 1976, she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to travel overseas to undertake a contrasting study in England, Scotland and Scandinavia on enforcement of moral laws. On her return, Heather used the information to develop procedures for police personnel to deal with child abuse, rape and child pornography. In 1984, Detective Inspector Innes was the first woman to head a drug bureau in Australia. She rose rapidly through the ranks, becoming only the second woman to be appointed to the rank of Inspector in the Tasmania Police. Heather was the State’s only 'Police Pilot’, assisting in search and rescue missions. She received three commendations during her police career.
After retiring in 1989, Heather started an air charter business to service the North-West Coast and the remote communities on the islands of the area. She also provides mentoring and support to younger pilots as they develop their expertise.
At the 2001 Australia Day Awards, Heather received an Australian Sports Medal. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1993 for her significant contribution to Australian life on the sporting field, in the police force and in the air. Heather was awarded the 2003 Nancy Bird Walton Trophy for the most noteworthy contribution by a woman in aviation.