A number of notable compassionate acts are part of a broader wave of community kindness, but police say personal safety is still paramount when faced with criminal activity.
Wendouree man Cameron Tougher made national headlines this week after he sat down to have a chat with a drug-affected man who had just broken into a car outside his house.
While fearing for his own safety, he said it was obvious the “poor man was in a crisis” and needed someone to talk to after his stealing spree.
“Empathy is a skill of compassion,” Compassionate Ballarat leader Dr Lynne Reeder, an adjunct research fellow at Federation University said commenting on the incident.
“If these people have had a family member or a friend of their children who got in with the wrong crowd, and then been given a second chance, they may well have been motivated to respond in this way.”
On January 15 Ballarat gym owner Sean Weir showed a compassionate response to an early morning alleged break-in, attracting the attention of thousands on social media.
With an iPad and and laptop containing important data stolen in the mid-January break-in, Mr Weir said in a video that there are “a lot of people out there who are not doing as well as you might be”.
“Many are struggling with addiction and homelessness and have issues we don’t know about,” he said.
“Obviously this person is going through some stuff that is influential in this. I have been through the same as a teenager. I needed a bit of a wake up call back then and hopefully this might be theirs.”
Mr Tougher told The Courier he had seen the video of Ballarat gym owner Mr Weir, and that it inspired him towards kindness when faced with a difficult situation.
“If there had been violence, or major damage involved, that would require police intervention,” Dr Reeder said. “But if our only response is a criminal record, then doesn’t give thew opportunity to grow and learn from their mistakes.”
Dr Reeder said the restorative justice movement,used alongside other punitive measures, was a way to engender compassion in criminals for those they commit crimes against. In some cases, young offenders attend mediation with their victims, to fully understand the gravity of their offending and the emotional impacts.
Police also urged the public to exercise caution in situations like a burglary, where their safety may be compromised, and contact 000 immediately.
Senior Constable Scott Howard told The Courier that “from our point of view, we’d say don’t confront the offender”.
“Call triple zero, and police will deal with the situation,” he said.