To support victims of crime and lobby for harsher sentencing, members of Wagga’s community are banding together.
In late May, Fred Velthuis showed up to his recently deceased father’s house only to discover it had been broken into, and Pauline Alchin had her home broken into while she slept more than two years ago.
Both agreed the crime and the aftermath have put them through to ‘hell and back’, so they have decided to start the Victims of Crime Association (VOCA).
“One thing that we have got to stress is that we are not vigilantes,” Mr Velthuis said.
“We are not going to run around with guns, placards and knives in front of court houses.”
The emphasis will be on providing a network of support for people who struggle in the aftermath of a crime against them, an issue both Mr Velthuis and Ms Alchin know all too well.
“I have to lock the house, including the windows, even when I am home because I don’t feel safe,” Ms Alchin said.
“I am the same,” Mr Velthuis said.
“Every time I drive to my dad's from Uranquinty I am frightened and worried that the house will have been broken into again.
“This is about support for victims, we want to make sure that others know they are not alone.”
Support will be provided in the format of monthly gatherings which Mr Velthuis hopes to get guest speakers for.
“My counsellor who has been helping me has agreed to come to a meeting and give us tips on how to support each other,” he said.
“I hope we can get a police officer as well one day.”
The second major agenda of VOCA will be to advocate for stronger sentencing.
“We are not the only ones this has happened to,” Ms Alchin said.
“We want put pressure on political parties and the judicial system to hand out adequate punishment,” Mr Velthuis said. “Make them think twice because now it’s only a slap on the wrist.”
Both Mr Velthuis and Ms Alchin said the aftermath of being a victim of crime often felt like more punishment for them rather than the perpetrator.
Mr Velthuis encourages anyone interested in VOCA to call him on 0407 267 279.