Cobram Neighbourhood Watch has reached its 30th birthday and still has a swag of founding members working for it.
Five of the 10 founders were able to attend a function to mark the occasion, during which Wangaratta Police Local Area Commander Inspector Kerrie Hicks presented them with certificates of recognition.
Insp Hicks, a strong advocate of Neighbourhood Watch, said the program was especially important in rural areas where being part of the community added to a sense of belonging.
‘‘It is a terrific platform for every community member to support and promote crime prevention and community safety awareness and activities,’’ she said.
‘‘Neighbourhood Watch fosters community resilience and cohesion which is essential to our shared community safety objectives.
‘‘It was very humbling to be able to personally thank and present the five members in attendance with their 30-year service certificates.
‘‘And a huge congratulations to the other five members who weren’t able to attend on the night.
‘‘Combined, these founding members represent 300 combined years of incredible service to the community.’’
Cobram Neighbourhood Watch was formed following a public meeting in October 1986 and then a second gathering at which 130 people responded as volunteers.
It was the first time (in Victoria) a whole rural town was to become a Neighbourhood Watch area.
Cobram co-ordinator Ron Renfrew said eight local foundation members — Margaret Wallace, Peter Brooks, Janice Hickey, Brian Nowell, Sandra McLean, Allan Mclean, Noel Gould and Arthur Ellis and two from other areas in Ian Johnston and Peggy Oliver — were thanked for their service.
Also acknowledged were current, retired and retiring members.
‘‘Cobram Neighbourhood Watch still has 78 volunteers delivering newsletters and keeping an eye on things,’’ Mr Renfrew said.
‘‘Through the years, in conjunction with Victoria Police, we have also held two expos in Cobram.
‘‘With a grant from Moira Shire we purchased an information trailer, we hold Safe Plate days, have had ‘Lock it or Lose it’ signs erected around Cobram and ‘No cash on premises’ signs made and given to all shops in the town.
‘‘In 2011 we started a community service awards program in the three primary schools and have now extended that to Barooga, giving students a chance to earn one of four certificates and a voucher ($25) at each school for their service.
‘‘Artavillas also donated a further three vouchers but mostly this program is funded by barbecues at Safeway (Woolworths).’’