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Keith Banks - Resilience - Helping people build resilience and recovery to leĀ ...

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Keith Banks

Helping people build resilience and recovery to lead fulfilling personal and professional lives

Keith Banks is one of Queensland's most decorated police officers, a recipient of the Bravery Medal and twice awarded the prestigious Queensland Police Valour Award medal, among other honours. He is a passionate advocate for changing the way mental health is regarded, discussed and supported. Keith is the best selling author of two autobiographical books which document his experiences as a Queensland police officer as an undercover operative and a special weapons tactical operator over two decades.

Keith joined the Police Force in 1975 and resigned in 1995. He joined as an idealistic seventeen year old embarking on a career encompassing twenty years of deep undercover work, criminal investigation, special weapons, bomb disposal, counter-terrorism and criminal intelligence. When he resigned, he was emotionally broken and racked with Post Traumatic Stress. The job he loved had almost destroyed him. 

During the first ten years of his service, he was a member of the Queensland Police Force during the premiership of Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Terry Lewis' time as police commissioner: the most notoriously corrupt period in Queensland’s history. He and other honest police lived through the Fitzgerald Inquiry, which brought down the government and the police commissioner. 

In 1987 Keith was the leader of a tactical weapons team which forced entry to a house occupied by a violent armed robber, who was Queensland’s number one most wanted. A gun battle ensued after the offender opened fire on the police and two members of the police team were shot, one later dying in hospital. The offender was shot and killed. The murder of his friend affected Keith deeply and he now understands this was the start of his dark experience with Post Traumatic Stress. When he realised after some time that he was becoming inured to violent conflicts and was in fact seeking them out as an unconscious form of revenge, Keith left the tactical role he loved and moved to covert operations and intelligence. 

He was promoted to Detective Sergeant and transferred to Major Crime investigation. In 1993 Keith and other police responded to a siege situation in the Brisbane CBD. He entered the building against protocol and found himself face to face with an army veteran armed with a rifle, an improvised explosive device (IED) containing sixteen sticks of gelignite and a hand grenade. Keith sat and talked with the veteran for an hour and a half, successfully persuading him to surrender his weapons and the IED. 

In 1994 Keith was presented with the Queensland Police Valour Award medal and a bar to the medal for his actions in 1987 and 1993. He was later awarded the Bravery Medal by the Australian Government for his actions in 1993. 

Access to psychological counselling provided by the Queensland Police Service did not exist in that era and, although he maintained an outwardly confident and calm manner, beneath the surface Keith was battling the demons of Post Traumatic Stress. In 1995 he resigned to accept a senior corporate role in risk management, emotionally broken and leaving the job he loved, knowing that if he stayed it would destroy him. 

Keith completed a Master of Business Administration in 2000 and subsequently worked in a variety of senior executive roles, the most recent as Chief Operations Officer for a membership association. In 2019 he was formally diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress and took this as a positive, now knowing he had not been imagining his mental health struggle. 

Keith started writing about his police experiences as part of self motivated therapy, hoping to give his daughters an understanding of his mental health challenges to help them understand the causes. He finished his first manuscript and to his great delight, it was published by Allen and Unwin Publishing in 2020. This motivated Keith to write a second book, a raw account of his battle with PTSD and his recovery. 

Both books have quickly become best sellers and are a platform to help achieve his goal of enabling others who are affected to understand they are not alone. His aim is to help people build resilience and to recover. 

Keith uses his lived experience to motivate, inspire and influence others. He speaks openly about his challenges and ultimate recovery to encourage others to develop resilience, wellness and lead fulfilling lives, both personal and professional. 

As part of his passion for authentic discussions of mental health to destigmatise attitudes, Keith is a Board member of The Male Hug, a charitable foundation with the mission to encourage men to speak about their mental health. He is a volunteer peer support officer for Police Veterans Victoria and an advocate for similar organisations to be established throughout Australia.


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