Do Best Things First

Bush Watch Bob

We met Bob Macaulay at the Devonport Show in Tasmania. He was manning a Bush Watch trailer, explaining the concept to people, encouraging their support of the program. The bright yellow trailer immediately caught our attention because throughout our travels in Tasmania, particularly in national parks and wilderness areas, the Bush Watch logos are much in evidence.

Under the category of “What shall I do with the rest of my life,” Bob has found his cause. But he explains it best himself...

BUSH WATCH a Profile of the Western Districts Committee

by: Bob Macaulay, Committee Member, Bushwatch

Bush Watch is a crime prevention initiative that attempts to reduce crime in rural areas by raising community awareness of the need to report unusual or suspicious activity and vandalism in the bush to the police, using the Crime Stoppers number. Bush Watch also encourages crime prevention behaviour such as the locking of vehicles and the securing of equipment and valuables. Bush Watch aims to heighten awareness of offences against flora and fauna such as illegal taking of protected flora and fauna. The work of the Bush Watch Western District Committee is to support and reinforce the Bush Watch initiative in the northwest and west of Tasmania.

The Bush Watch Western District Committee is made up of members of organisations representing different perspectives, but all with an interest in protecting the bush. Represented on the Committee at present are rural industries such as Gunns Limited Burnie, Wildflowers Australia, and the North West Beekeepers Association, Forestry Tasmania, government agencies including the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Forestry Tasmania, Tasmania Police, Tasmania Fire Service and Parks and Wildlife, local councils, including Burnie, Devonport, Waratah Wynyard, and Central Coast Council, community organisations such as the Upper Natone Neighbourhood Watch and Timber Communities Australia, and recreational bush users such as the Braddon 4 Wheel Drive Club.

The Bush Watch Western District Committee meets once a month. At meetings Committee members discuss and report on strategies to increase awareness of Bush Watch, both within their own agencies and in the general public. Members also assess the effectiveness of such strategies and how this can be monitored. Members consider fund raising initiatives to enable them to widen the scope of their activities.

The long-term goal of the Bush Watch Western District Committee is to increase public awareness of the objectives of Bush Watch. This in turn will help to make and keep the bush safe for everyone to use, through creating awareness of offences against flora and fauna, encouraging crime prevention behaviour and encouraging the reporting of suspicious activity in the bush.

The work of the Bush Watch Western District Committee affects rural communities through creating a safer environment in which they can live and work. Promoting the objectives of Bush Watch also affects rural industries by protecting resources and equipment from vandalism and theft. Workers in rural areas are provided with a safer work environment. Recreational users of the bush are also affected in that their safety and the security of their belongings is increased.

Perpetrators or potential perpetrators of crime are affected in that they may be deterred by indications of a Bush Watch presence from initially committing a crime, and may be more likely to be apprehended if they do commit a crime.

The Bush Watch Western District Committee reduces and prevents crime in rural areas chiefly through raising awareness of the objectives of Bush Watch. The Committee, through its members and through its public activities, encourages the public to report any illegal activities in Rural areas, advocates safe behaviour in the bush and creates awareness of offences against flora and fauna.

Individual organisations have erected Bush Watch signs in areas of their jurisdiction and have reinforced the Bush Watch message to their employees. For example, strategic placement of Bush Watch signs in various locations throughout areas of public and private land helps to deter criminal activity and prompts people to report any unusual activities they see.

The Bush Watch Western District Committee monitors its results through various means, but mainly through information collected by the agencies and organisations represented by Committee members. This information suggests that both activities aimed at heightening public awareness of the objectives of Bush Watch and the response of the public in their willingness to report possible illegal activities have increased.

So far, Bush Watch only operates in Tasmania.