AFTER almost 30 years of heading up Neighbourhood Watch branches across the Shellharbour and southern Wollongong regions, Oak Flats' Frank Gavin believes his quarterly community safety columns are no longer needed in the internet age.
Mr Gavin, 80, has been involved in Neighbourhood Watch branches stretching from Oak Flats to Dapto since 1985 and has been writing his quarterly community safety columns, which have been distributed throughout the community and published in newspapers such as the Lake Times and Wollongong Advertiser since 1990.
"I've been in the Lions Club for 38 years," Mr Gavin said. "In 1976 the Lions Club started Speak Up in Victoria, a campaign to get people to tell people about crime. In the early '80s I tried to get it going when we were living in Dapto.
"I wasn't really getting anywhere with it and I found out it was because the police were trying to start up Neighbourhood Watch, so with the help of of some other members of the Dapto Lions Club I went out and started the Dapto Neighbourhood Watch in 1985."
Mr Gavin and his wife, Katherine, moved to Oak Flats in 1988, where he has been in charge of the local branch ever since.
Mr Gavin said his long involvement with Neighbourhood Watch was because he enjoyed helping the community - and that it simply became a habit.
"I was trying to do something for the community and I do enjoy it, but doing the newsletters became a habit for me as well.
"We used to deliver it every quarter. I had some helpers and we would walk around and put it into letterboxes, but my knees got too old for that so with a bit of persuasion I managed to get it into the papers every three months, which was good.
"I'm getting on a bit and with the internet and things like Eyewatch, Facebook and Twitter, people can easily find out what's going on and the police can easily tell people things that way as well, so I guess I've been phased out a bit."
Sergeant Mark Scott, Lake Illawarra Local Area Command's community safety officer, said Mr Gavin's efforts were commendable.
"Frank's a very community-minded man and always puts the community first and he's always been very diligent and very eager to assist police."
He said Mr Gavin's time and effort was to be commended.