The Wimmera Branch of Royal Victorian Association Honorary Justices is continuing its recovery in the wake of the problems caused by the pandemic.
The Royal Victorian Association Honorary Justices is a volunteer organisation with various branches helping their communities by providing reliable and timely legal services.
Wimmer Branch secretary and Ararat resident Barry Sertori said there are a handful of tasks that make up the bulk of the association's duties.
"We probably do four main areas: we witness statutory declarations, people swear affidavits in front of us and we witness them, we do certified copies for people like nurses and others who need copies submitted for their job, and probably the big one we do is powers of attorney," he said.
"If you go to a solicitor to get power of attorney done, they can charge up to $500-600, and we can't charge because we're voluntary.
"We cover Wimmera, Horsham, Warracknabeal, Ararat, Northern Grampians."
However, COVID-19 has caused challenges the branch has never before experienced since it was founded two decades ago.
Mr Sertori said the group has had to adapt to continue offering its services to the community.
"A lot of them are older, and they're all volunteers, so during COVID a some of them didn't actually see people at all," he said
"The state body put out guidelines, and we had to do the normal COVID-safe procedures like anybody else.
"We would social distance and wear masks, and we had to ask people to bring their own pens and have the hand sanitiser out, all the COVID-19 procedures that any business would undertake."
Ararat honorary justice Bernadine Streeter was among those who continued their volunteer work under changed conditions.
She received a state government grant which she used to convert a room in her house to an office where she could offer her services in a COVID-safe environment.
She said since she has made this change she has been "busier than ever".
Wimmera Branch vice president Michael Nunweek also continued his volunteer work and experienced an increase in clients.
Mr Sertori said as restrictions ease, some normality is returning.
"Things are coming back online," he said.
"Now that the COVID restrictions have lifted we welcome any input from any members who haven't been able to attend."
The branch has meetings in February. May, August, and November, on the second Thursday of each month. These meetings ensure members are aware of any changes to requirements or procedures.
"A few other people can do the tasks that we do, it is just probably that we have a bit more training," Mr Sertori said.
"We do professional development through the state association and our branch meetings, which are quarterly. That ensures we're up-to-date with the latest developments.
"For example, the Statutory Declaration form has changed in the last 12 months, so people need to know that they are getting the right form signed and the right certifications on their copies.
"Affidavits, in particular, have been witnessed in the correct fashion because they can end up in supreme court cases."
Mr Sertori said being part of the association is a rewarding experience that allows people to serve their communities and make new contacts.
"The main benefit is that you're able to keep up-to-date with the latest procedures and documents," he said.
"The fellowship as well, you get to meet your fellow colleagues across the Wimmera Branch."
The next branch meeting is on May 13 at Great Western Hotel, with all honorary justices welcome to attend.
For more information, visit www.rvahj.org.au/wimmera-branch.
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