THIS will be my last Ask The Inspector column, as I am moving off to take up a new position in Gippsland next week.
I have been reflecting on my 18-month stay in Bendigo as the inspector, and also about my 18 years in the area as a resident.
From a work point of view the past 18 months has thrown up some challenges.
The most confronting of these for me was no doubt the quadruple fatalily I attended near Colbinabbin earlier this year.
However, despite the overall sadness of losing four lives in the one accident, I also saw the best of human bravery and compassion, when local residents and emergency service providers responded to assist in the way that they did.
Unfortunately, attending road trauma is a part of our job description, and after attending incidents like these I make no apologies for our constant warnings about road behaviour and regular enforcement of the road rules.
Fires are a constant concern in rural areas, and the Greater Bendigo area is no exception. Our hot, dry summers mean that we get regular fires and they are usually fast-moving, which creates a dangerous environment for us who live and work in the area.
A fire earlier this south of Bendigo had the real potential to cause some harm to people, and once again the quick actions from not just the emergency services, but also the community I believe saved a few people from being placed in real and imminent danger.
I hope that the Bendigo region continues to become an even safer place to live into the future.
There are a few easy things that all of us can do to contribute to this:
Stand up and speak out against domestic violence;
Stop tailgating in your vehicle, please – allow two to three seconds between you and the car in front;
Move into the left lane, please. I am not sure why we have this habit of driving along in the right lane all the time– it frustrates other drivers;
Lock up your stuff – too many personal items are being stolen from unlocked cars and unsecured front yards; and
Look after your mates on the grog.Too many people are unnecessarily being assaulted and injured after getting plastered – stay calm.
The Greater Bendigo community has been fantastic.
The regular news stories I read about involving the community digging deep to help those who are going through a rough patch, or have lost a loved one or a house, are simply inspiring and embody a really supportive spirit you often find in these rural areas.
It would be remiss of me to also not mention the work of the Blue Ribbon Foundation.
I have been lucky enough to be involved with this locally over my time here and get to see what a great job this group of volunteers does to raise money for the local health services. Like other service groups in the area, their work often goes along unnoticed until the large novelty cheque gets handed over. Please support these service groups if you are able to.
The next fundraiser for the local Blue Ribbon Branch is an "Inside Story" crime night at the Kangaroo Flat Sports Club on July 31. Tickets cost $45 and are available from the sports club. They include a two-course meal and two behind-the-scenes insights into past police investigations. They are a great night.
I look forward to being a regular visitor back to Bendigo, and hope you welcome and support the new inspector as you did me.