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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 5 May 2010) . . Page.. 1805 ..


MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.03): I would like to commend Mr Doszpot for this important motion about this most important community-based organisation. Neighbourhood Watch is one of the many organisations in our society which creates part of the glue. According to its website, Neighbourhood Watch is a community-based crime prevention program. Members of particular neighbourhoods accept that they have a personal and social responsibility to assist in the promotion of a sense of wellbeing, safety and security.

The site goes on to say that the program is also aimed at reducing crime, especially property crime and crimes against the person. It is directed primarily at reducing the incidence of burglary in residential areas but it is also aimed at reducing crime generally. The aim of Neighbourhood Watch is to promote a safe and secure environment.

Across Canberra there are some 50 local Neighbourhood Watch groups. In Belconnen, in my own electorate of Ginninderra, there are groups in Cook and Aranda which also cover Macquarie, Charnwood, Dunlop, Emu Bank, Fernhill Park and Flynn which, as members here would remember, was the group that was the genesis of the West Belconnen Health Cooperative. So not only does Neighbourhood Watch look at public safety and crime. It was also looking deeply into the needs of the society and the community as a whole. The groups also cover Fraser, Jaramalee Park, which is also in the other part of Dunlop closer to Macgregor, and Melba-Spence.

It is typical that these groups are run by volunteers drawn from the local community. These volunteers devote an enormous amount of time to raising money, mounting awareness campaigns for local residents, liaising with police and just generally keeping an eye on things. Local residents are engaged through membership of their groups and look out for each other in the community.

In a sense, Neighbourhood Watch is a good Samaritan in our community. It and its people are good neighbours in our community. They keep watch on things; they help people to improve their personal security; they show them how they can better protect their property. Most importantly, the people engaged in Neighbourhood Watch programs are the personal link between residents and the police. They provide that link in a proactive and friendly manner that removes the formality that necessarily rules the way residents often deal with police.

It is pleasing too that the relationship that Neighbourhood Watch has with ACT Policing is such a positive partnership. And it is a partnership—a partnership that is strong and robust, mutually supportive and beneficial, and one that delivers positive results for our community. Indeed, given the enthusiastic support that comes from ACT Policing for Neighbourhood Watch, it would be interesting to speculate just how much higher our levels of local crime might be without this program. It is a wonderful service and it is deserving of more support than it gets.

In talking with the president of the central committee of Neighbourhood Watch, Margaret Pearson, I noted that the government this year has provided $20,000 for the work of the committee. More than a third of that money goes to the payment of public


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