Well, when I started in 1989, I was the second
bunch – there was a few people before me – but, I was in the first couple of weeks
at After Hours Child Protection and, in those very early days, we were a new service. We
were located in Kew. We had very old cars. We used to carry around massive mobile phones
that were like big bricks and we would jump quickly when the phone rang because this is work. My first job was to start to collate names of contacts because we had no computers.
We had no idea when that phone rang, who was on the other end. So, we were really flying
by the seat of our pants. Well, thirty years is a milestone but when
you use the word ‘celebrate’, we have a job which is essentially dealing with broken,
sad people. So, we celebrate a service that does protect children and I can say with confidence
that myself and colleagues have actually been involved in saving children’s lives. They’re
the great achievements that, one, we’re able to respond. And we respond state-wide,
just not Melbourne Metro. A caller can come from Mildura. A concern about a child up there
and we will respond. We will contact the Rural After Hours. Workers who are divisional workers
during the day and then are on call during the night. How is that for hardcore? Now,
they need a medal. Often crises occur in the evenings. Just
the last job I did the other night was exactly that. It was late afternoon, school, child
protection. Hey, we need to do something about this. After Hours can do it because they’re
there. It needs to be attended to tonight and that’s the essence of it. These things
can’t wait. But, over 30 years, better equipment, more knowledge. We ‘re given better training.
We are celebrating 30 years because we’ve got 30 years of protecting children.
I think we’ve all got a commitment to people and a commitment to children and we all have
a commitment to justice. I mean, it sounds corny and all that stuff but the truth is,
I’m there because I’d like to be part of a society where we can do something to protect
the innocent. I’m there because it’s a privilege. I consider myself lucky and blessed
maybe that I’m working there.