Mr Robert Charles Bolch OAM JP FRVAHJ
Region: Mornington Peninsular Branch
Appointed JP: 9 Aug 2004
Appointed JP Qld: 16 Jan 1997
RVAHJ: Frankston, Greater Dandenong
I should preface my story by telling you that I am also a Queensland Justice of the Peace (Qualified) (JP QuaI) Reg. No. 72135; a member of the Queensland Justices Association (QJA) Reg. No. 26783; QJA is the QLD equivalent of the Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices (RVAHJ). I am also a Victorian Representative of the QJA; I became a QLD JP (Qual) in January 1997.
In 2003, my wife, also affectionately known as SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed); thought that it might be a good idea if we go to Victoria to see the Grandkids. Shortly after arriving in Victoria, it was suggested that as I was a QLD JP; why not see about becoming a Victorian JP, a transition which was done by being sworn in and appointed a Victorian Justice of the Peace Reg. No. 11501 by a Frankston Magistrate at 10:30 am on 9 August 2004.
At or about that time, a group of Victorian JPs thought it might be a good idea to set up Document Signing Stations, similar to that set-up in Shopping Centre’s in QLD. The exception being, to mainly operate them out of Police Stations; so, one of my first duties as a Victorian JP was to commence work at the Dandenong Police Station Document Signing Station with Murray McGregor JP as Coordinator, who was instrumental in persuading many JPs to assist him.
As I was living in Langwarrin, I considered Frankston was closer for me, so I approached a Senior Sergeant at Frankston Police Station who gave approval to conduct a feasibility trial; this proved successful and less than 12 months after becoming a Victorian JP; I became the Coordinator for the Frankston Police Station Document Signing Station.
With the dedicated assistance of many local JPs, we served the local residents in this very important community initiative. Not content with providing services to Frankston I also established DSS in Mornington, Rosebud, Carrum Downs and assisted Chris Warwick in Hastings to set up similar facilities in these Local Police Stations.
I consider myself one of the new breed of JPs; who instead of having people visit our homes conducted our services from the counter of the local Police Station, thereby freeing up some of the Police Officers to conduct more patrol work to the benefit of their communities. I believe the establishment of Document Signing Stations, particularly in Police Stations had a three fold affect.
- Members of the public who previously had difficulty finding a JP, were now certain to be able to access their services at their local Police Station as JP Rosters were set up and their operating hours became known.
- The establishment of DSS in Police Stations did much to allay the general public’s fear of seeking assistance from the Police; and it allowed Police to adjust their patrols to have a greater Police presence on the street serving the local community.
- It served as protection for rostered JPs who were able to call on duty officers assistance should they suspect false documentation or had to deal with recalcitrant customers.
I think my most satisfying work as a JP comes from helping people who may face a minefield of red tape; and trying in various ways to placate their anxiety.
I have found great satisfaction working as an Independent Witness, assisting young people being interviewed by Police Officers; elderly people both at home and in Nursing Homes, Tradesmen wishing to have qualifications Certified. Witnessing Statutory Declarations and Affidavits for the General public and helping newly arrived migrants, as they try to navigate systems alien to them; as they seek to deal with their own cultural paperwork while trying to assimilate in their new home.
I have made no mention of the fact that when I wore a younger man’s clothes, I held a 3rd. Dan Black belt in Ju Jitsu and had two Dojos (Schools). One of my students became a Chair of the Victorian Martial Arts Council.
Well over 40 years ago when another of my interests were of a Canine persuasion, I was the Foundation Secretary of the Bull Terrier Club of Victoria; I became President and a Life Member of the Club. At one stage I held a Licence to judge all Terriers to Championship Level; and became a Specialist (ROM) (Recommendation of Merit) Judge of Bull Terriers.
Other notable events include…
- Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices – Life Member Victoria Police.
- Chief Commissioner’s – Citation
- Frankston South Rotary – Paul Harris Fellow
- Victorian Senior of the Year Awards – COTA Senior Achiever Award
- Order of Australia Medal – Recipient
In closing I would definitely encourage more people who may be considering volunteering in their spare time; and are desirous of meeting likeminded individuals; to think seriously about offering their services to your community by becoming a Justice of the Peace or a Bail Justice.