Phyllis June KELLY

Born Phyllis June KELLY at Penrith on 16 June 1923 to James and Elizabeth KELLY, she was one of six children, and her brother was a police detective.

Phyllis joined the NSW Police Service in 1950 and began her career at the police depot in Redfern. Assigned to the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB), a predominantly male domain, she became skilled in various criminal investigations such as homicide, rape, and drug offences.

In 1954, Phyllis was chosen to be part of Her Majesty’s security detail in Sydney during the Queen’s first visit to Australia. Standing only a few meters away, she served as an undercover lady-in-waiting, carrying a short truncheon and handcuffs in her handbag.

Later, she joined the surveillance squad.

Throughout her career, Phyllis achieved numerous promotions, reaching the rank of Detective Inspector in 1976, making her the first female detective inspector in the NSW Police and in Australia. She received recognition for her exceptional service, including the Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 1974 and the WD&HO Wills Trophy for the Most Outstanding Policewoman in 1976.

Phyllis was commended in 1966 for her crucial role in apprehending the notorious criminals Ronald Ryan and Peter Walker, who had escaped from Melbourne’s Pentridge Jail.

Phyllis June KELLY passed away in 1982 after battling a long illness.

Source: TROVE, National Library of Australia Newspaper Collection