Every year, a group of volunteers sign more than 50,000 documents - both helping the Ballarat community, while freeing up police to work respond to incidents.
Justices of the Peace are based at Ballarat Police Station each weekday - completing a range of important roles from certifying true copies of original documents and people's identities to witnessing statutory declarations or affidavits.
While they have been unable to operate during lockdowns, they are once again stationed at the front desk of the Dana Street police station.
Roster coordinator and chairman of the Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices, Harry Gibcus JP, appealed to the community to bring their documents to the police station to be signed rather than to those working on the frontline fighting the pandemic.
"As a group of JPs we'd like to think that we can help the community, particularly in the more stressful times with COVID.
We ask the community to relieve the people fighting COVID and come here to the document signing station.Harry Gibcus JP
"We ask the community to relieve the people fighting COVID and come here to the document signing station. People can come here to get their documents signed rather than their doctor or a chemist because they've got enough on their plates with COVID and injections," he said.
"So the community can help and we can help them too."
But Mr Gibcus said that in the last two years about 10 Justices of the Peace had been lost from the station's roster - some have died and others have decided to step back given old age.
"We're running short on the roster but we are trying to keep the services that we are providing to Ballarat running," he explained.
The group of volunteers signs about 50,000 documents each year, meaning they have signed about half a million during the last decade.
While some JPs have put their hands up to fill in extra shifts, Mr Gibcus said it would not be sustainable in the long term.
He is aware of many more accredited Justices of the Peace living in the Ballarat community (there are more than 100), including some who were appointed through their employment but may now be retired, and asked them to consider lending a hand and joining the roster.
"We're asking justices who may have time to help, maybe even just one session each month," he said.
Mr Gibcus, a retired teacher, enjoys the role. A widower who lives on his own, he particularly enjoys it as a way to interact with police and the community.
"I quite enjoy it. It makes my day, so to speak," he explained.
"First of all it is serving the community and secondly it is the support that we are giving to our police force."
Adding that he felt too old to volunteer in other volunteer roles, such as a firefighter, he said this was his way of giving back to the community.
"The community revolves around people volunteering in various capacities and this is one way of doing it," he said.
He said Ballarat police were exceptionally supportive of the JPs being stationed there.
Inspector Dan Davison said the hours JPs spent signing documents at the station equated to a police officer being freed up to work in the community.
"It gets members back on the road every day, out there dealing with high harm and high impact offending - with family violence or taking drugs and drunk drivers off the road.
"They're doing all that rather than stamping documents, so to have that support of JPs is absolutely fantastic. They are absolutely invaluable."
The document signing station operates at Ballarat Police Station on Mondays to Thursdays from 11.30am until 2.30pm and then between 4.30pm and 6pm. On Fridays it operates between 11.30am and 6pm.
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