The State Government must take urgent action to ensure that single officer stations across Northern Victoria and the state are not robbed of staff, Nationals MP Gaelle Broad said today.
Ms Broad said almost half of the state’s 98 single member stations were in Northern Victoria.
“There are a total of 47 single officer stations in the region, from Werrimul in the far north-west of the state to Mitta Mitta in the far east, and Lancefield, Riddells Creek and Macedon stations in the south,” Ms Broad said.
Ms Broad raised the issue in Parliament, saying a plan by police command to change enterprise bargaining agreements would allow single officer station staff to be used to fill vacant shifts in bigger stations.
“Once again, regional Victoria will bear the brunt of this Government’s failure to manage.”
Ms Broad said officers at single member stations provided an important connection with the community.
“If the mobility clause is passed, one-member stations could end up backfilling vacancies to meet the staffing requirements of 24-hour police stations and eventually be forced to close,” Ms Broad told Parliament.
“As well as deterring and responding to crime, people feel much safer knowing there is a police presence in the town.
“Residents contacted me to raise concerns about the impact of these changes on their local police station. Their local police officer is involved at the local school, which teaches students not to fear police. They depend on him and describe him as a well-respected member of the local community.”
“Steps to fill rosters should not be to the detriment of one member police stations in regional communities.
Ms Broad urged the minister to assure local communities that one-member police stations will remain.
“People living in regional areas are tired of being treated like second class citizens by the Labor Government,” she said.
“We heard evidence at the budget hearings in June that there are around 800 vacancies unfilled throughout Victoria Police. The Government should be addressing these shortages, not robbing regional communities of their local police to fill the rosters at bigger stations.”