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• ‘Captain Sal’ on court duty

Captain Peter Stamp and Kaitlyn Keppels-Baker offering their support to people attending court in Portland. Photos: Karen Hodge

Portland Corps’ regional support vehicle, ‘Captain Sal,’ has recently been in service at the local Magistrates’ Court in the south-western Victorian coastal town and will continue to do so regularly.

The 12-metre bus will appear on Cliff Street outside the courthouse every Tuesday from 9.30am until 12.30pm to offer its support for people attending court that day.

Two gazebos are set up beside the bus, with heaters, chairs and tables underneath, so people can shelter from the cold weather.

An office in the back of the vehicle offers a private meeting place for people and their legal representatives to have a conversation, with time slots available to book.

Portland Corps Officer Captain Peter Stamp said they originally developed Captain Sal with the Alcoa Foundation as a COVID-19 relief project.

“That was so we could visit the smaller towns in the Glenelg Shire to be able to offer supports to community members,” he said. “Captain Sal has been off the road now, probably for about a year and a half.”

‘Captain Sal’ will be parked outside the Portland Magistrates’ Court every Tuesday morning.

“We’ve used that time to reassess the project post-COVID and move into more of a community development model rather than a COVID relief model. We’re looking at what are the other needs within the community that we could try and address.

“One of the things we’ve been wanting to address is being able to provide support for those waiting for their court appointments down at the courthouse, and that was really around providing shelter out of the wind and the rain.”

A team of two to three people will be stationed at the bus and will provide support.

“If somebody’s coming for their court appointment, they’re by themselves, and they’re a bit nervous, it’s just having somebody there to have a cuppa with, have a chat and try to settle themselves before they go into that space,” Peter said.

“If people are needing some extra support, we have the opportunity to support people outside of that day, so we can make an appointment to catch up with them later.”

This article by Charlie Sawyer-Bassett first appeared in the Portland Observer




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