Last week I was fortunate to be able to attend a bail justice hearing in the very early hours of Saturday morning. My respect for the police and the role they play in our community was strengthened as I witnessed them go about their work in the watch house, and my eyes were opened to the role of volunteer bail justices who drop everything in the middle of the night without a second thought. Our community is significantly challenged by increasing crime rates, with serious assaults and burglaries growing at a worrying rate in my electorate. Addiction formed the basis of the crimes committed at the two hearings I attended. This also firmed my view that while there is no doubt we need to toughen up on crime, health policy has a role to play in fixing this law and order mess. It is vital we get that balance right. I remain committed to the consequences of and personal accountability for those who commit crimes and for a tough stance on repeat offenders.
Bail justices in the South-West Coast electorate often travel extraordinary miles, some over 100 kilometres, to and from hearings with absolutely no compensation. They do it for the good of their community — something that is common in South-West Coast. Since joining this place I have been continually amazed at the number of people willing to give up their time for a whole range of causes in the South-West Coast community, be it on a Saturday at the local footy and netball games, delivering meals on wheels to the elderly, spending time in aged-care homes or in schools, or giving up hours and hours of time to ensure a community event goes off without a hitch.
Then of course there are the amazing emergency services volunteers — the men and women of the Country Fire Authority and State Emergency Service — who put everything to one side to ensure the community is safe and secure in times of emergency. These are the people who make our community successful. They are the reason things get done, and in National Volunteer Week I want to say thank you to each and every member of the South-West Coast community.