PUBLIC advocate Neil Thornton wanted Victoria Police to know how much Ararat Senior Sergeant Damian Ferrari and his team looked after him, often up to nine times each week.
Mr Thornton, an Independent Third Person, would be called from his home in Stawell to support people with intellectual disabilities or youth in any dealings with the justice process – any time, any day. For awhile, it was just Mr Thornton acting for the region after advocate numbers dwindled, so Snr Sgt Ferrari actively led a recruiting process to make sure there were more people skilled and ready to help.
Victoria Police officially honoured the Ararat station with a state public advocate’s award at the World Trade Centre in Melbourne.
Leading Senior Constable Janine Walker was recognised with a special commendation for her work to improve better outcomes for people with disabilities, in particular her work for a more dementia-friendly Ballarat as part of the Bigger Hearts program.
The event, hosted by Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, was to recognise police and police stations that provide outstanding services to people with a disability.
Mr Thornton nominated the station for its work, but also to recognise the care the station showed for him.
“When the ITP department in Melbourne rang, you could accept or reject going, but I always accepted because I knew they were in a bind,” Mr Thornton said. “But the station was always concerned about my health and well-being.”
The ITP network is critical to police work to ensure all those with an intellectual disability, or under-age, were supported in any contact they had with police.
Wimmera Superintendent Paul Margetts said the Ararat station had shown great initiative in their approach to make sure this need was met.
“I’m proud of the Ararat station in its work with the public advocate office and in their community to ensure all people with cognitive disabilities are properly supported,” he said. “Advocates do a great job in calming people down and ensuring they are completely focused in the justice process.”
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