Each week, you can find Norm Gehrmann pen in hand, hunched over some legal documents at the local shopping centre.
Mr Gehrmann is a Justice of the Peace (JP) and has been fulfilling this important role in the community for almost 40 years.
JP’s are volunteers who help members of the community by witnessing documents, keeping up with the laws and even hearing certain matters in court.
Mr Gehrmann said he enjoys meeting people and helping them out.
“I like to help the community,” he said.
“You meet some very nice people”
“I have always enjoyed community service and I became a JP when I was a coal miner.”
Volunteering is nothing new to Mr Gehrmann who once pushed a bed from Moranbah to Mackay.
“We were raising money for the Moranbah Hospital,” he said.
“It took two people to push it and it was about 200km’s.”
Each week Mr Gehrmann sets up at the table in Riverlink to sign people’s legal documents providing a free service to the community.
“We are always looking for more JP’s to help out,” he said.
Ashley Owen was working in the Ipswich Railway Workshops when he first became a JP back in 1967.
Things have changed a lot in over half a century and the role of JP has also seen many changes.
“Back then you would normally knew the person, but now JP’s are generally not known to the person requiring their services,” Mr Owen said.
“JP’s are not permitted or qualified to provide legal advice so you really need to be sure the person you are helping understands what they are signing.”
Queensland Justices Association Ipswich Branch chairperson Marian Scott said local JP’s provide a valuable community service.
“Volunteers give up their time to assist the community but also give up their time to stay informed with ongoing education and professional development,” Ms Scott said.
“Being a JP is inspiring and you learn so much about the people you meet.
“There is a satisfaction from helping the community to achieve those needs that are so important to them, by this I mean those document that need a qualified witnessing officer.
“Volunteering in this role, is an opportunity to give some of your time back to the community.”
If you are interested in becoming a JP click here for more information.
History of Justices of the Peace
Tracing as far back as 1195, knights were commissioned to preserve the peace in unruly areas by Richard I (Richard the Lionheart).
Known as Keepers of the Peace, they were responsible to the King for ensuring the law was upheld.
A later statute, in 1327, referred to ‘good and lawful men’ to be appointed in every county in the land to ‘guard the peace’ with such individuals referred to as conservators of the peace, or wardens of the peace.
Between the 14 and 19 centuries their powers were increased and justices of the peace had a broad range of administrative and judicial duties.
Australian JP’s have little in common with their earlier British counterparts.
How to find a JP near you
JP’s in the Community Program runs at many shopping centres and court houses. These are just a few.
Tuesday, 9.30am to noon
Thursday 6pm until 7.30pm
Saturday 9.30am until noon
Brassall Shopping Centre
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday and Friday from 11am until 2pm
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10am until 4pm
Riverlink Shopping Centre
Tuesday 11am until 1.30pm
Thursday 5.30pm until 7.30pm
Saturday 9.30am until noon.