Police pioneer’s century

POLICE PIONEER'S CENTURY: SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, left, and SA Deputy Police Commissioner Linda Williams, right, with Dorothy Pyatt.
POLICE PIONEER'S CENTURY: SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, left, and SA Deputy Police Commissioner Linda Williams, right, with Dorothy Pyatt.

Dorothy Pyatt OAM celebrated 100 years – but says it’s been a short life so far.

The Klemzig resident, who at one point was based in Port Augusta, was a pioneer of the South Australian police force and one of the state’s early female police officers.

She served in an official capacity from 1947 until her retirement in 1983, followed by volunteering roles until the age of 99 earlier this year.

Dorothy celebrated her 100th birthday with a morning tea at her Southern Cross Care residential care home in Klemzig.

Dorothy’s carers at Southern Cross Care organised the celebration, with her friend inviting SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens and SA Deputy Police Commissioner Linda Williams. Southern Cross Care Chief Executive Officer David Moran also attended.

When asked her secret to living a long life, she responded: “It’s been a very short life so far.”

Dorothy joined South Australia Police in July 1947 at the age of 29, after serving in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service during World War II. 

She was the first permanent Woman Police Constable to serve in the Far Northern Division, based in Port Augusta and covering the largest territory of any police woman in Australia.

Dorothy’s role was to look after the interests of women and children and police work related to them.

She caused a sensation in the town as Port Augusta had never had a permanent Woman Police Constable and people often came to the police station window to look at her.

Dorothy was the first South Australian Woman Police Constable to achieve a radio operator’s licence and the first to complete four-wheel drive vehicle training. She also received two Commissioner’s Commendations in 1951 and 1957 for “zeal and attention to duty”.

Dorothy is an inaugural and life member of the South Australian Police Historical Society (SAPHS) and has been the driving force behind the collection, restoration and preservation of the society’s 31,000 photos. She was also heavily involved in locating the burial places of police officers in cemeteries across South Australia and the renovation of their graves. Commemoration ceremonies at various sites have resulted from Dorothy’s dedicated research.

Dorothy was awarded the OAM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2007 for her outstanding contribution to police history in South Australia.

“Like many of our residents, Dorothy is an inspiration to our staff and the people around her,” Southern Cross Care CEO David Moran said. “Southern Cross Care was pleased to help Dorothy celebrate her 100th birthday milestone as we recognise her lifetime of achievements.”

“Our staff take an interest in the lives of all our residents and went to great lengths to give Dorothy a memorable birthday.

“We thank the Police Commissioner and Deputy Police Commissioner for helping to make this a special day for Dorothy.”