Since I was at high school I have been volunteering in one capacity or another, from tending drinks stations, collecting for charities, being a parade marshal, to leading a campaign to ensure New Zealander's passports were reinstated to 10 years, over the years I’ve probably done it all, and have at times struck deals with influential people (including, at one point, a sitting Prime Minister) and it probably can be said that I’ve been far more successful in my volunteer career than in my paid one!
In 2017 I purchased a block of land in a growth area of Melbourne, at around the same time I noticed there was a shortage of JPs in my new area, my great aunt was a JP in NSW, and I remember many years ago at my high school in NZ we had a teacher who was a JP and I thought at the time, yeah, I wouldn’t mind doing that when I’m an old man, and having reached my 40’s, I considered myself old enough, and so I submitted an expression of interest.
JPs are honourable individuals who have a commitment to actively provide vital honorary justice services including certified copies, certifying true identity, witnessing statutory declarations and affidavits, attesting powers of attorney, and providing other judicial services to members of the community.
Fast forward to October 2019, and I was sitting in a large room with dozens of potential applicants, my understanding of becoming a JP was that you approached an MP and asked them to recommend you (which is the process where I grew up in New Zealand), however in the great State of Victoria that hasn’t been the case for many years, and although the prerequisites are you must be an Australian Citizen and you must be over 18 years old, we learnt that applicants must submit their CV, undergo a rigorous recruitment process involving video interviews, face to face interviews, federal police checks, classroom training, and an examination.
I attended my face to face interview in late January 2020, and being slightly nervous I was worried I didn’t do well, then as I was leaving the interview one of the recruiters who I was chatting to earlier said “I really look forward to seeing you at the training”, unfortunately not long after COVID-19 hit Melbourne hard, we were scheduled to do our classroom training in autumn, but this was promptly cancelled, we waited about 6 months before the training was moved online, and in the end, we had to complete and pass (with 90% or more) 7 modules in total, questions surrounded the JP Handbook and how JPs serve the community.
Today I received a message from the Department of Justice and Community Safety, that my name has been passed to the Attorney General’s Office, to recommend my appointment as a Justice of the Peace by the Governor of Victoria, it is likely that the appointment and swearing-in will be done over video conferencing as Victorian public service still hasn’t fully opened up due to COVID restrictions.
So there you have it, an interesting way to spend my spare time during a pandemic! Soon I will become a member of one of the most ancient positions in the judiciary, (JPs date back to the 1190s), and I really look forward to serving the people of Victoria once I am appointed next month.