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Tuesday, 14 June 2005
Page: 97

Mrs ELLIOT (9:10 PM) —May I, firstly, extend my condolences to the member for Eden-Monaro. That was a very moving tribute to Kerrie.

I rise tonight to pay tribute to the fantastic work of the local Neighbourhood Watch groups within my community. There are 19 Neighbourhood Watch organisations throughout Richmond, including Tweed Heads Central; Tweed Heads West; Bilambil area; West Banora Point; Palm Lakes Resort; Terranora; Kingscliff; Fingal, which is just starting up again as a Neighbourhood Watch area; Murwillumbah; Murwillumbah Area 14; Condong, Nunderi and Keilvale; Tumbulgum; Chillingham; Bayside; Wardrop Valley; Pottsville; Billinudgel; Casuarina; and Flame Tree Park. They are ably led by local district coordinator and volunteer in policing, Gordon Levenson, and Senior Constable Stuart Crawford.

As a former police officer, I know the value of Neighbourhood Watch. During my time in the police I assisted in setting up Neighbourhood Watch programs and spent a great deal of time meeting with Neighbourhood Watch groups. The program involves the police working closely with volunteers to prevent crime. These volunteers are instrumental in minimising the incidence of preventable crime, increasing the incidence of reporting crime to the police, improving the level of personal and household security, encouraging people to engrave their property for ease of identification if stolen and improving the relationship between local police and the community.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the meeting of the West Banora Point Neighbourhood Watch group. Like the other groups in Richmond, they are community minded people who are committed to keeping their neighbourhoods safe. Senior Constable Murray Baker from Tweed police came along and gave a very informative talk on local youth crime and police efforts to address concerns of local residents. Having worked in juvenile justice as well, I know that this is possibly one of the most challenging areas of law enforcement. Senior Constable Baker made himself available to the Neighbourhood Watch meeting to discuss their concerns fully. I congratulate both him and the local area command on the work they are doing to address youth crime in our community.

It was wonderful to attend their meeting and listen to their views on community safety and crime prevention. In conjunction with other groups, they are distributing a newsletter with important safety information. It is vital that the wider community is kept informed and stays alert to the incidence of crime. I know that local police regularly attend Neighbourhood Watch meetings and that their contribution is greatly valued by the local community.

Recently, Tweed/Byron local area command held a community safety forum in Tweed Heads. I was pleased to attend along with 60 people from local Neighbourhood Watch groups and the general community. Local area commander Tim Tarlington was on hand to answer questions and hear the views of the community. It was a fantastic initiative and gave me and our local police an opportunity to hear about community concerns. I congratulate all of those involved.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise the local proprietors of the Good Guys. Their support of Neighbourhood Watch in our area is vital to keeping this important community organisation up and running. Through their Tweed Heads South store they are selling ultraviolet pens that can be used to mark personal property. Properly marking property can be vital in making sure that any recovered stolen property is returned to its rightful owner. Any profits made from the sale of these pens goes to supporting local Neighbourhood Watch groups. I encourage people to support Neighbourhood Watch and help protect their property by using one of these special pens to mark their TVs, videos, DVD players and stereos. I know from my time in the police that having properly marked property can lead to identifying that property if it is stolen and later recovered. It is wonderful that the community is right behind this initiative and that local businesses are assisting as well, in conjunction with the police.

Our local police do a fantastic job and I know that they are committed to working closely with the community. But they simply cannot be everywhere. That is why Neighbourhood Watch is so important and why I have taken this time to recognise its efforts. I know from my time in the police, seeing Neighbourhood Watch groups grow, how effective they can be and how important they are in the community in keeping an eye on what is happening within the neighbourhood. I encourage anyone who is interested in community safety to join their Neighbourhood Watch group and become involved locally to keep their community safe.