The Police Volunteers Program is celebrating a decade of success
Commencing in January 2010 on an initial trial basis with 16 volunteers in public relations roles at Holden Hill and Golden Grove police stations, the program soon expanded across Local Service Areas. Existing SAPOL areas such as the South Australian Police Historical Society, Neighbourhood Watch, Blue Light and the Police Chaplains were brought under the program’s umbrella. Further volunteer opportunities then became available with the Puppy Development Program, Road Safety Centre and role players for recruits, CIB courses, Comcen, Call Centre and Mounted Operations Unit for public order training.
SAPOL is now supported by more than 1,000 authorised volunteers across a range of different volunteer roles throughout the state, in areas such as training, community engagement, crime prevention and community safety. Emphasising the value of the Police Volunteers Program, around 80 former volunteers have gained paid employment with SAPOL in areas such as the Call Centre, Police Security Services Branch and as sworn members.
Seven of the 16 volunteers that were involved in the pilot program in January 2010 are still making a tireless contribution across SAPOL. Read some of their stories below. Affectionately known as the ‘magnificent seven’, Ian, Rose, Patricia, Daphne, Molly, Wendy and Jean have collectively volunteered just under 11,000 hours with SAPOL, with Rose achieving more than 2,450 hours.
The 10-year anniversary was celebrated with an invitation-only morning tea at SAPOL Headquarters on 21 January. This was followed by an informal dinner on 22 January where members of the ‘magnificent seven’ will be presented with certificates acknowledging their 10 years of service.
Festivities will wrap up in February with the Band of the South Australia Police entertaining SAPOL volunteers with a free concert.
Read more about our Volunteer opportunities
“I volunteer at Holden Hill Police Station and Ottoway Property each week, and have volunteered role playing at the Academy, Call Centre, and public order training with the horses, and helping with mail outs or making FOI files. It gives me a feeling of wellbeing and sense of satisfaction knowing that I am being of assistance to both the officers/staff and general public…..knowing I am assisting those on duty with mundane tasks. – e.g., photocopying, giving out forms etc.
At first we were only doing PR – meeting and greeting and writing customers’ ‘enquiry’. Now, our role has widened immensely, in all areas of policing: able to do JP work, (witness signatures and photocopies only), able to get Bail records, Statements / paperwork from filing cabinet for ease of signing, offer advice on Police Clearances, Vehicle Crash Reports (VCRs), Lost Property, almost anything, if we know the correct answer and give out forms for completion.
You never know who or what is going to ‘walk through the door!’ From the bikies to the druggies, an incident with a teary mother and her two young children at 8.30pm at night, having your friend’s family ‘front up’. I enjoy helping out with role playing/working with Cadets and seeing how they progress from 1st phase to the end phase (an opportunity to be a drama queen!!); upping the ante when role playing for Detectives (a real drama queen then!).”
Rose: 2455 hours
“Public Relations/Meet and Greet initially at Golden Grove Police Station then to Holden Hill Police Station where I am currently…..and have volunteered with role playing at the Academy and Call Centre.
I enjoy meeting new people and learning new skills. Keeps the brain alert as one ages. Enjoy the camaraderie with the staff as it makes the role so much easier and fun.
Probably the most significant growth has been the acceptance of the staff having volunteers at the front desk. This in itself has led to trust and confidence and made the position more pleasurable.”
Patricia: 1783 hours
“I got involved in the program after I saw it advertised as my son had just started in the police force and told me about front counter duties and how difficult it was to deal with customers coming in and trying to get jobs finished. I thought I would like the interaction with people from all walks of life so applied immediately. As well as front counter duties I have been involved with role playing at the Academy and at the Airport. I also have been a role player at the Call Centre.
In the beginning of my volunteer life we had a lot of restrictions .… As time went by we were allowed to get the sign in sheets out and we can give out online information after we enquire further about VCR’s or Firearms registration etc. I think the majority of officers are very happy to have volunteers to man the front counter and most of us get on very well.”
Wendy: 1652 hours
“I initially worked as a W.P.A. (equivalent of a Station Support Officer) at the Kadina Police Station in the 1960’s and I thought it would be a good opportunity to re-visit the past. It was also my first volunteering position and I was happy to be involved with and help SAPOL.
I like the fact that we are a friendly civilian face in what is sometimes a stressful situation for people attending the police station. I feel that people are more relaxed (both visitors and staff) when we are on duty in the front office. Initially when we started it was considered a ‘risky proposal’ – having civilians working on the front counter of a police station. Our training was amazing and we learned exactly what we could and could not do. I think we have helped the atmosphere in the front office at the police station by being able to speak to visitors as soon as they enter the station and reassure them that someone will see them as soon as possible.“
Jean: 1424 hours
“I do four hours one morning a week and fill ins if anybody cannot do their shift.I had been volunteering elsewhere when Karen Robinson put a note in the Messenger asking for volunteers so I thought I would give it a go and I have enjoyed it ever since.
I only do Holden Hill now, it is a bit far for me to do anything else.I get satisfaction from helping people as I always think that I might want help one day.”
Molly: 1298 hours
“I’m volunteer in Public Relations front counter, Justice of the Peace, Blue Light swim events, mail out assistance, witnessing drug and property disposal as a JP (I would not have become a JP if not for the program). I also like the fact that as a JP I can lift some of the work load on a busy and often short staffed situation.
I like the fact that I am able to give a friendly calming contact to everyday people who rarely deal with the police and are feeling distressed about their situation.
I am encouraged by the response from the SAPOL members who greatly appreciate …going from us volunteers being eyed with suspicion as to what we might offer or would we even be an obstacle to the current status of being greatly missed when a volunteer is unexpectedly unavailable.”
Ian: 1288 hours
“I am one of the original volunteers trained by Karen Robinson ten years ago. I have volunteered regularly at the Golden Grove Police Station … and have more than enjoyed the constant involvement. I have also worked with the cadets at the academy and for a time was involved with taking tours around the academy.
The roles and duties have grown since we all started and over that time I have seen and learnt so much about the good work the police do and give to our society.”
Daphne: 1072 hours