With his fierce determination to rebuild approaches to mental health, former AFP Commander Grant Edwards’ tenacity to break down barriers could be his most impactful mission to date.
Since graduating from Charles Sturt University in 2001 with a Graduate Certificate in Police Management, followed by a Master of Leadership, Policy and Governance in 2016, Grant has gone on to make waves in law enforcement, and mental and physical health.
Grant retired from the AFP with 34 years’ service, following a career of diverse experience in senior roles across 13 countries.
He currently volunteers as an ambassador for non-profit organisations under his freelance business ‘StrongCmdr’, where he also works as a leadership and mental health consultant and sits on the advisory board as chair of the Centre of Excellence for Law Enforcement and Public Health.
“Recognition in life is something that many people seek, but not everyone achieves,” Grant said.
“I am honoured and humbled that I have been recognised in this year’s awards.
“I believe recognition in life is not a measure of one's worth or happiness, but rather a reflection of one's impact and influence on others.”
During his time as a police officer, Grant witnessed the devastating impact of organisational and institutional injustice, with years spent working across many investigative fields.
He was instrumental in implementing the AFP’s capability for human trafficking and exploitation on women and children alongside the United Nations, also making a name for himself working to counter major organised crime, and in counter terrorism and transnational drug trafficking operations.
Since retiring from the AFP in 2019, Grant has opened up publicly about his personal battle with PTSD and depression.
His exposure to the deeply traumatic and unspeakable crimes at the forefront of police investigations triggered a personal call to action, seeing Grant seek long overdue assistance for his mental health.
This caused him to redirect his energy to help re-shape the police force’s approach to mental health – and to broaden awareness across the wider community.
An internationally acclaimed athlete, Grant was recorded in the 2021 Guinness World Book of Records for pulling a 201-tonne steam locomotive 36.8 metres along a railway track.
He has competed internationally in powerlifting, strong man competitions, athletics, bobsled, and the Scottish Highland Games.
During the final years of his AFP career, Grant began his work in promoting mental health awareness by hosting two global mental health conferences in Washington, DC. At one of these events, he demonstrated his athletic prowess, pulling a 178 tonne C-17 US Military Globemaster, to raise awareness of the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
For Grant, the opportunity in 2019 to publish his memoir, ‘The Strong Man’, offered a powerful platform to launch his career as a mental health consultant.
His book offers insights into his journey to the verge of collapse and how he fought to make it back.
Grant has also published many academic papers across the world on mental health in law enforcement and in 2017, his lived experience of PTSD was featured on ABC’s Australian Story.
Read more about Charles Sturt’s amazing 2023 Alumni Award winners here.