A Covid Safe Christmas on the northern border

With Victoria suddenly shutting its border with NSW right on the eve of Christmas due to Covid concerns in certain parts of Sydney, Leading Senior Constable Jason Hempseed of Casey/Cardinia Crime Scene Services was one of hundreds of members who received the call up to take part in the border deployment. Here are some of Jason’s images and reflections.

Christmas 2020 wasn’t spent with family and friends. Instead, it was spent in Wodonga, on the NSW-Victorian border.

For SMR members, our Vehicle Check Points (VCPs) were about 1.5 hours East and West of Wodonga, from Cobram to Towong Upper.

Most members were based at the Bandiana Army Barracks. A lucky few got a hotel with a pool.

The days were long and the weather hot, with most members incurring OT.

Some locations called for 15+ members, others as little as two.

VCPs were set up for members to check all people entering Victoria had the correct permit.

Most were permitted in, with some turned away. If you were unlucky enough to come through with an outstanding warrant, your destination was the local police station.

We met new colleagues from other stations. I was fortunate to work with some awesome people and have a lot of laughs.

Word got around rather quickly as to which VCPs were the best to work at, with members trying unsuccessfully to swap.

The local communities were very appreciative of our efforts to help keep Victoria safe with gifts of food, chocolates and lollies a regular occurrence.

There was road side barbecues, impromptu cricket matches with the locals and even a supply of fishing rods (those lucky members know who they are).

Logistics were an ongoing issue, with transportation and access to adequate meals the main concern.

My crew and I were lucky enough to have the local publican supply chicken parmas and fish and chips to our location.

You can’t beat country hospitality!

Local management did the rounds of the checkpoints engaging with members and taking note of welfare concerns whilst passing on their gratitude for everything members sacrificed to help keep Victoria safe.

Would I go again? Only if I got the same crew, checkpoint and a chicken parma…