Old Boy Wayne Rossetto's bravery award honour
author: Lorrie Liston
We are extremely proud of Old Collegian Wayne Rossetto (SPC 1985-90) who was recently presented with the NSW’s highest award for a police officer, the Commissioner's Valour Award.
The award ceremony was held in Sydney in mid-May with Wayne being honoured for his exceptional bravery after making the incredible arrest of a violent young offender.
The Commissioner's Valour Award is presented to a person “who has shown exceptional bravery in a life-threatening situation with a clear significant risk to life”.
Due to the serious nature of this award, they are often, sadly, made posthumously.
Wayne was presented with his award by NSW Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, and on the same day, also received the Police Service Medal and the 20-Year clasp for the Ethical and Good Conduct Medal, with his wife Megan and extended family proudly watching in the audience.
Wayne chatted to the Green, White and Blue about receiving the medal, the day of the chase and his life since.
“I was very proud and humbled to receive such an honour,” says Wayne, of receiving the Commissioner’s Valour Award.
It’s a long way from his childhood as a day student at St Patrick’s College in the mid ‘80s.
Wayne reflected on what he described as a happy time as a student at SPC, and values what he terms as a “rich curriculum” of subjects, which also encompassed Music, French and Latin classes during his student days.
“You were encouraged to excel at St Pat’s, to show some initiative and be pro-active and that is something that has always stuck with me.”
Watching as an innocent bystander while a bank robbery unfolded at Wendouree as a Year 8 student also had a bearing on his future career path into the police force.
“The police caught the people responsible by that night and I remember, being impressed with their efficiency.”
After leaving St Patrick’s, Wayne completed a Bachelor of Arts at Ballarat University before joining the Victorian Police Academy six months later.
He then moved to NSW and found some casual work before joining the NSW Police Academy. From there, Wayne spent 22 years with the NSW Police in what he calls a “colourful career”, working in various areas of the police force.
“I had been stabbed a couple of times and shot at,” Wayne recalls, in incidents occurring prior to the chase on October 29, 2013.
On that day, a 22-year-old man, on his second day of parole, tried to kill the veteran police senior sergeant during a terrifying chase on foot through the suburban streets of Albury.
“NSW Police had been engaged in a car pursuit with this offender between Wagga and Albury,” said Wayne.
At the time, Wayne was working with the NSW Highway Patrol section. The police had managed to corner the offender, who then fled on foot.
“He had gone into the nearby drainway system and I had an idea of where he might come out,” said Wayne.
He came face-to-face with the man in a normally quiet, residential cul-de-sac in the suburb of Lavington.
“I called for him to stop and he jumped a six-foot fence and took off.”
Wayne chased the offender and did not know the man had hidden behind a garden shed.
He said the offender lunged at him as he jumped the fence into the suburban backyard.
“He came out from behind the shed and tried to stab me in the heart, but I turned into him and he stabbed me in the top upper arm, through to the bone.”
Despite battling such a serious injury, Wayne managed to fend the man off.
He drew his firearm and called for the offender to surrender. Wayne recalled the young man responded by holding the knife to his own throat and repeatedly yelled at Wayne that he would have to kill him.
The young man ran off again, jumping over at least another five residential fences, before Wayne managed to corner the offender again near a residential garage.
“I was in a huge amount of pain by this stage.”
Thankfully, Wayne was able to make the arrest after subduing the man with capsicum spray.
The offender was initially charged with the attempted murder of a police officer and was later jailed for a minimum of eight years.
It later emerged the young offender was the son of a double murderer and wanted to become just as “notorious”, Wayne said.
While working as a highway patrol policeman at the time, Wayne recalls he was lucky he had been taking weapons training with student police officers in Goulburn the week before, coincidentally giving him a weapons refresher, which he says, may well have saved his life.
Wayne’s superiors nominated him for a bravery award for his actions, but this was rejected and upgraded to the Commissioner’s Valour Award, in a true testament to Wayne’s bravery on the day.
Wayne returned to the police force and the NSW fire and rescue, where he had also assisted for decades, but left the NSW police force in 2016 and moved with his wife Megan back to Victoria.
“I loved the police force … it was a very memorable career, you get hurt, but there were plenty of good times, great memories and good blokes that I worked with.”
Wayne is now working for the Victorian Building Authority in Melbourne on the cladding investigations taskforce, initiated after London’s devastating Grenfell Tower fire. It is yet another role in which Wayne works towards ensuring public safety.
We thank Wayne for sharing his incredible story with the College!