The vulnerable members of the community in Victoria will be comforted by and assisted when in need through the Community Register Initiative program with Neighbourhood Watch volunteers having a major role.
The Office of Senior Victorians, Department of Planning and Community Development have supported the development of the Community Register Initiative (the Initiative), with the support and collaboration of Victoria Police and key stakeholders including Neighbourhood Watch.
The purpose of a Community Register is to check on the well-being of people who are older, living alone or with elderly partners, companions or relatives and/or who experience isolation and/or disability. The Register telephones the people who have registered, on an agreed regular basis. If the registrant does not answer the call, additional calls may be made, if there is still no response then further action is taken, such as notifying the next of kin or organising a visit to the home by the Police.
The Initiative has seen the establishment of in excess of twenty-five (25) new Community Registers (Registers) and the extension of up to fifteen (15) existing Registers to include other people in the community who may be isolated due to reduced mobility, frailty, disability, or the location of their home.
Currently, Victoria Police based registers keep a record of contact telephone numbers and addresses of the registrants and those of their next of kin. Other details, such as basic health status, medication, and name of medical practitioner, may also be included. In emergencies, such as heatwaves, bushfires, storms and floods, the registers can be used to check that vulnerable community members are safe and secure.
Registration is voluntary and at no charge to the registrant.
The Registers will be either located within, or closely associated with police stations.
Priority has been given to the establishment of Registers in areas of high bushfire risk.
The Registers will establish a relationship with the relevant emergency services.
The majority of Registers are staffed and run by volunteers under the oversight of a designated responsible Police Officer. This is where Neighbourhood Watch volunteer can play a significant role.
Seniors Registers were established to provide a service whereby older people who are living alone or are socially isolated, can nominate to receive regular contact calls from local volunteers to check that they are safe, and well. Initially, the impetus for the development of Registers in Victoria and New South Wales was related to unfortunate situations where individuals, living alone, died in their homes but were not found until some time after their death. A regular phone call to elderly or isolated individuals ascertains their well-being and, if a call is not answered, next of kin can be notified and/or the appropriate authorities can make a visit to the home.
These Registers, which were mainly established in conjunction with Victoria Police and run in most cases by volunteers, keep a record of contact numbers for older people, including their next of kin. In extreme weather condition emergencies, such as heatwaves, bushfires, storms and floods, they can be used to make contact with vulnerable people to confirm that they are safe and secure.
The benefits of a Community Register Initiative
The Initiative provides support to individuals who wish to remain in their homes yet require occasional contact to verify their well-being.
Additional benefits include:
- Registrant feels secure in their home
- Establishment/maintenance of a trusting relationship with the local Police Service
- Local Police aware of vulnerable local residents
- Tool for information delivery - but only where agreed with the registrant and cost to be borne by the information provider.
Improved Capacity of Victoria Police to undertake Community policing duties
- Greater knowledge of location and well-being of elderly and vulnerable residents
- Contact list of individuals who may need additional support in emergencies
- Capacity to provide registrants with referral and contact information for other support services
- Increased capacity to provide vulnerable residents with home security support and information, such as house inspections and neighbourhood watch information
- Reduced risk of isolated individuals, who are deceased, injured or ill remaining undetected in their homes.
Improved sense of security for older and vulnerable people
- Supportive contact with local police on a regular basis provides increased confidence and trust in the relationship
- Development of an 'every-day' relationship with local police not crime, crisis or trauma related, supporting trust and increasing confidence in the Police Force
- Increased access to Registers by individuals from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds where community language volunteers are involved
- Reduced fear of remaining alone for any length of time if unwell or injured and unable to access the telephone or other means of communication
- Opportunity to volunteer in a secure and safe environment.
The Office of Senior Victorians, Department of Planning and Community Development and Victoria Police look forward to the continued development and success of the Community Register Initiative in the future to enhance the safety and wellbeing of the vulnerable members of our community.
This program encourages very useful community engagement by Neighbourhood Watch volunteers to encouraging potentially vulnerable members of the community to register, to be alert to the potential problems being experienced by our vulnerable neighbours and be part of the community response to those needing help - all part of helping create safer and more engaged communities.
Neighbourhood Watch Victoria