BATHURST'S Stuart Driver will become a leading voice among the state's Justices of the Peace after becoming a director of the NSW Justices Association last weekend.
Mr Driver, who started the popular Bathurst Community JP Desk two years ago with the support of a band of local volunteers, was elected to his new role during the association's annual general meeting.
He is believed to be the first JP living in western NSW to become a director.
The community desk operates three times a week inside the Bathurst City Centre to provide residents easy access to a local JP.
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"Since establishing the JP desk it has become very apparent to me that regional JPs need more representation and support in order for them to carry out their important community work, and our regional communities need a better and more reliable access to JPs," Mr Driver said.
"It has been quite an unexpected journey from setting up a community desk for Bathurst to becoming a director of the association.
"I am very grateful to the JPs who volunteer their time working at the desk, it is they that make it a success for Bathurst."
Mr Driver said there was regularly a queue of people waiting to see a JP at the desk and volunteers had helped more than 1200 people a year, signing more than 3500 documents.
The desk has now attracted interest from other regional centres.
"They want their own desk - and rightly so," Mr Driver said.
Mr Driver said there currently few branches and support groups to assist regional JPs but he believes better use of technology would create opportunities for the Justices Association to reach out to JPs without them having to travel to attend meetings.
He also wants to see JPs in regional areas given better access to the latest information and training in what can be a rapidly-changing environment.
"This will improve the standard of service that regional JPs provide their communities," he said.
"I am also concerned as to the age demographic of Justices of the Peace ... and I hope to be able to attract younger people to this important vocation which will greatly improve regional communities access to JPs in coming years."
Mr Driver said the recent introduction of a compulsory online assessment for JPs to renew their appointment had created some difficulties and he feared it would result in a loss of local JPs.
He invited any Bathurst JPs who were struggling with the process to contact him for assistance.
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