23 March, 2021
Community wellbeing a focus for stock squad
THE new stock squad team is heralding a better way to serve the community, with a focus on improving mental health and more in the Central West regions.
Allan Cook is the new Detective Sergeant officer-in-charge of Longreach Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad.
The stock squad are tasked with assisting the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries with biosecurity compliance, security compliance and ensuring residents have completed their livestock movement records.
They are involved in most aspects of rural crime, including weapons offences, drug offences and the theft of livestock.
Tick lines are a large focus for the team, ensuring cattle have been dipped and horses are chemically treated.
However, there is an increasing focus on community wellbeing and mental health, with Sgt Cook and officer Chris Curtis, conducting on-property visits, offering support to struggling families.
“We drive a lot of kilometers, probably about 7000km to 7500km per month,” he said.
“We'll drop into properties, see how people are going.
“They've done it tough here with nine years of drought, and there are other issues.
“We have had a few instances out this way of people taking their own lives because things have become difficult.”
Community engagement and having a visual presence in the region is important to the stock squad.
"We want people to know we're out and about, we want them to know that if they're concerned enough to be worried themselves, they can give us a call,” Sgt Cook said.
“We're more than happy, our phone is on 24/7, I'm happy to speak to anyone about any topic that might be affecting them.”
Sgt Cook said the stock squad’s primary task of stock and rural crime kept the team busy.
“If you have a look at over the last year, the type of investigations we've been involved in, stock theft has been one, willful damage - people cutting fences to go in and hunt pigs or shoot roos.
“You can't just willy-nilly shoot kangaroos, you've got to be appropriately licensed, or the property has to have a permit for you to do that.
“Drugs are also a problem for us and we continue to investigate that and biosecurity compliance is a major issue at the moment.”
Sgt Cook said presently the stock squad had its attention drawn to disease control.
“Movement records are a focus right now,” Sgt Cook said.
“If you're transporting a horse from one location to another, some people seem to think “well it's a low-risk carrier why do I need to do this?”
“It's because if we have a disease outbreak, we need to backtrack where all these animals have been.
“It's like contact tracing with COVID-19, same with cattle, MVDs need to be appropriately filled out.
“Trespassers going on the properties when they've got no biosecurity clearances, we assist the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in that respect.”
Sgt Cook said the goal was to build strong foundations and to have a more holistic approach to the way the stock squad could better serve the region.
“We're trying to change how we previously did business and not suffer from tunnel vision,” Sgt Cook said.
“Realistically if our property owners and our graziers and our workers aren't well then, the industry isn't progressing.
“We've got to make sure our grassroots with our people and our animals are good.
“Then the industry can prosper from there and, we're making inroads.”
To contact Sgt Cook directly, call 0429 063 468.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.