Childers resident Barry Cochrane has volunteered 2000 hours to help local police officers and his efforts didn't go unnoticed, as he was recently awarded a prestigious Gold Medal at a special ceremony.
The Volunteer in Policing (ViP) role is something Barry has been involved in since 2010.
ViPs are based with police and work to address customer service, community safety and crime prevention needs in the community.
The range of tasks they undertake complements the roles and responsibilities of paid police officers and staff members.
“Volunteering with the police, especially here in Childers, gives me the opportunity to work alongside a great bunch of young men and women and provide support wherever possible,” Barry said.
“With Childers being such a small town it also allows me to meet and interact closer with the local residents.
“It gives me a feeling of community involvement, something I am quite passionate about.”
Barry received his Gold Medal at the Queensland Police Service Medal Ceremony held in Bundaberg this week and said being awarded made him feel valued.
“The fact that QPS recognises its volunteers and includes this recognition as part of the medal ceremony for all officers, serving and retired, makes you feel you are an important part of the overall organisation,” he said.
During his volunteer time, Barry said he helped out with front counter tasks at Childers Police Station and was also on hand to assist with events that officers attended.
“Here in Childers my main task is to assist the administration officer on the front desk with over-the-counter queries and pass on details to officers as needed,” he said.
“I am also involved in the Childers Festival and Read To Me Day, which is a big event here in each year and the police are very involved.
“My wife Margaret and I run the Police Reading Station.
“We always get dressed up depicting the theme of the day – I am not sure if this is for the benefit of the kids or ours!”
Barry encourages others to join VIP initiative
According to Barry, volunteering with the QPS was the next best thing to joining as a full-time officer.
“I actually did try to join the Queensland Police Service when I was 19 and in Townsville but the desk sergeant took one look at me and told me to go away, put on two stone or shrink five inches,” he said.
“Neither of those body changes were likely to happen so I enlisted in the RAAF and served for nine years here in Australia and South East Asia.”
For those looking to volunteer in the community, Barry said the ViP program was a wonderful way to give back.
“It gives you purpose and makes you feel like you are part of the community,” he said.
“You do it because you to want to, knowing there is no remuneration other than a sense of self-satisfaction.”
Bundaberg Patrol Group Senior Constable Brittany Duncan is coordinator of the ViP program and said ViP’s were vital to police officers and stations.
“Our local ViP’s conduct a range of tasks around the Bundaberg Patrol Group such as administration duties, found/lost property section, court assistance, community events and crime prevention activities such as letterbox drops and anti-theft screws,” she said.
“Our volunteers have lifetimes of experience in their own unique walks of life so it is wonderful to watch them use that existing knowledge to help community members in different aspects under the QPS banner.
“As the coordinator of the ViP program I am so lucky to have such wonderful people willing to give their time to assist us with our everyday duties.
“They make my job easier and certainly more enjoyable by being surrounded by such positive and incredible personalities.”
Find out more about Volunteer in Policing here.