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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6177

Mr HAWKE (4:06 PM) —I rise today to commend the activity and efforts of Matthew Slattery and the volunteers and executive of West Pennant Hills Neighbourhood Watch area coordination unit. Matthew has been the area coordinator for more than 17 years. In that time he has ensured its survival through some very difficult periods. As members will know, the Neighbourhood Watch community program began in Victoria in 1983 and was formally launched in Sydney in 1984. Its aim was to engage the local community with its local police to help minimise the incidence of crime, increase the reporting of crime, develop a greater awareness of personal and household security and improve the quality of the relationship and communication between the local community and its police force. It was such an important program because it was recognition of the fact that government cannot solve all of our problems but that we need to engage each other and rely on each other to solve problems within our community. It draws upon that vast body of goodwill out there in the community that is available to police to really get crime solved and tackle criminal elements within communities.

During the 1980s and 1990s the Neighbourhood Watch program flourished in Sydney on the back of the initiative and hard work of many of our local community members, such as those in West Pennant Hills. Sadly, of course, as we know, successive state Labor governments who were not committed to programs such as Neighbourhood Watch tended to favour centralised police bureaucracies—centralised local area commands—over local stations. Over time, of course, we have seen a dying of the traditional policing model and the involvement and integration of the community with policing across our major metropolitan cities. Sadly, this represents a failure by government to ensure that these kinds of vital community programs are kept alive.

However, today I really want to praise the positive work of the volunteers who have kept area 6 West Pennant Hills alive for some 23 years in the face of no government funding. Today they still continue to raise the money to keep their Neighbourhood Watch area alive just by themselves and the efforts of their volunteers, with no government funding and little government support and recognition for the vital policing work that they do. The fact that area 6 continues to flourish is due to the hard work and efforts of Matt Slattery, whom I presented with a volunteer award, and fellow volunteers such as his wife, Robyn, Margaret Hutton, Greg Menzies, Gea Waalkens and others. West Pennant Hills is in general an area that suffers from a lower level of crime incidence when compared with some of its neighbouring suburbs. I have no doubt that this is due in no small part to the excellence of Matthew Slattery, his volunteers and the executive Neighbourhood Watch members. They are true community members. They take part in ensuring that all crime is reported within their area and dealt with expeditiously.

I know that I can speak on behalf of the Castle Hill police and its former Senior Constable Tim Fellows, who in his capacity as Castle Hill police’s community liaison officer worked closely with Matt and members of the West Pennant Hills area 6 Neighbourhood Watch to help reduce the incidence of crime and significantly improve the flow of information between our local police and community. I want to thank Matt personally for his many years of community involvement and initiative and to thank the volunteers of the area 6 West Pennant Hills Neighbourhood Watch service.