For weeks on end and in rain, hail or shine, police officers have stood out in the elements around the clock in an effort to protect the Ballarat region from the threat of COVID-19.
Checkpoints were set-up around Melbourne to protect regional Victoria from the spread of the virus on July 9, as it rapidly spread through the city. But now, four months to the day, the checkpoints have finally been dismantled - much to the relief of many in the community.
For the police who have been manning the checkpoints, it has meant being diverted from their normal duties - including for Sergeant Jackie Loveday, who has been in the force for almost 20 years.
Normally focused on road policing through her role in the region's Highway Patrol, for the past four months Sergeant Loveday has instead been based in a tent on the side of the freeway.
With a laptop set-up on a camping table, she supervised the checkpoint on the Western Freeway between Melton and Bacchus Marsh, through the role of Police Forward Commander.
The checkpoint had largely been manned by members of the Highway Patrol, with support from uniform and members of the proactive unit - not only from this region but also from Melton, Sunshine, Caroline Springs and Keilor.
On a busy thoroughfare, police were supported by the Australian Defence Force and on some days, the Navy, to check that the hundreds of people travelling through each day were doing so in line with the legal reasons as communicated by the Chief Health Officer.
Sergeant Loveday's role was to oversee the day-to-day running of the site, including to ensure it was safe for both the police and ADF personnel working on the roadside, in addition to the community members passing through.
Acknowledging that there had been challenging days and that checking community members' reasons for travelling and their associated documentation was not in police's usual job description, Sergeant Loveday said everybody who had been working at the checkpoint had embraced it.
They come here for their shifts and rain, hail, shine and even some days with snow and ice, they have been out there with a smile on their faces and they leave with it again at the end of the day. They know they have a job to do and know that they have been making a difference to help the community stay safe- Sergeant Jackie Loveday
"Everyone has taken it on board. They come here for their shifts and rain, hail, shine and even some days with snow and ice, they have been out there with a smile on their faces and they leave with it again at the end of the day.
"They know they have a job to do and know that they have been making a difference to help the community stay safe."
As time went on, people had a better grasp of the process of going through the checkpoint - that police would ask the reason they were travelling and so they would have their permit or other documentation ready so they could be back on the road within a couple of minutes.
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Noting there had been few issues, Sergeant Loveday said the community had largely been understanding of why the checkpoint was in place and the whole process had been made a lot smoother with the introduction of workers' permits.
In addition to manning the checkpoint itself, police have also patrolled the roads and townships around the freeway for people who may have been trying to avoid it.
Sergeant Loveday said this really helped to provide reassurance to the community.
While it hasn't always been easy, the regular deliveries of baked goods has been a sweetener.
Sergeant Loveday said it had been a great experience to work alongside police members from other areas, as well as with members of the ADF and Navy.
But now, Sergeant Loveday is looking forward to a change of pace: jumping back in the highway patrol car and doing her part to keep the community safe on the roads and reduce road trauma as restrictions continue to ease.
She thanked the community for their patience and all the police and defence force staff who had assisted at the checkpoint for their diligence and hard work.
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