Elders the missing key to safe CBD
THE DISAPPEARANCE of Aboriginal elder patrollers from Maryborough streets at night was rued yesterday, at an otherwise upbeat meeting of the city’s Safety Network Committee.
The success of the Maryborough Liquor Accord, CCTV, increased CBD lighting and the introduction of the Murri Court during the past 12 months was hailed, but the ongoing absence of the late night patrollers due to a funding slash is seen as the missing piece from the jigsaw.
“The patrols had been very successful. We had a decline in youth-related issues,” Kahwun Wooga co-ordinator Shane Nelson said.
He explained that a new education survey had indicated a new wave of Year 8 and Year 9 students at risk of disengaging from school.
“There is a fear of a transition to anti-social behaviour and self harm. This is a new lot of kids not covered by the previous funding which made such a difference.”
Mr Nelson was joined at the meeting by Superintendent Steve Wardrope, Senior Sergeant Tony Cole, councillor Barb Hovard, hotel owner Clay Clayton and the Fraser Coast council’s senior community development officer Debra Moore and youth community services officer Patrice Bates.
“We would like to be able to skill up our patrollers and build on what we’ve got,” Mr Nelson said.
Patrollers worked voluntarily to help keep violence off city streets after funding worth $66,000 dried up last year, but their presence has gradually faded in the interim.
“The patrolling program is a great thing,” Mr Clayton said.
“These people are out there at the frontline when we need them to be out there.”
Snr Sgt Cole noted a decline in trivial offences during the past year. “This has been achieved by a multitude of strategies,” he said.
“But we have missed the Kahwun Wooga patrols, which worked really well with our night patrol officers. The threat of the Murri Court has also had an impact because young offenders would have to face their elders.”