Maryborough violence has dropped
THEY ruled Maryborough’s CBD by night for most of 2008.
Glassings, beatings, break-ins, boozing, drugs and even an attempted car jacking – the violence and vandalism went on and on.
Now, members of the small but violent gang of “untouchable” youths have turned 18, moved out of the region or are doing time in jail.
Inner-city violence has dropped by 30 to 40 per cent. Maryborough residents are starting to regain the confidence to return to the CBD after dark. Shopkeepers are feeling positive about the future.
But there’s still plenty of room for improvement – especially as night-time violence “runs in cycles” – and that’s where the Maryborough Safety Network comes in.
The dedicated group of publicans, shopkeepers, community members and police officers united at the peak of the violence in August last year.
They are responsible for many improvements to the CBD including the installation of more lighting, CCTV cameras, the introduction of a liquor accord and an increased night-time presence of police and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patrollers.
They say they want to do everything they can to make the CBD – the thriving heart of Maryborough – as family friendly as possible.
They say it’s time we reclaim the streets.
“Because Maryborough’s CBD is such a compact area, any violence is right in your face,” said network member and Fraser Coast councillor Barb Hovard.
“Compare that with Hervey Bay and their long strip of Esplanade ... while it is bad down there it seems to be more obvious here.
“Any violence is a concern because the number one thing people want in their community is to feel safe.”
Ms Hovard touts the Kahwun Wooga Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Corporation’s elder patrols as a “very good way” of being pro-active about the night-time issues in the CBD.
According to publican Clay Clayton, they’re “the best thing we’ve got to curb the night-time violence”.
However, since funding fell through earlier this year, the patrollers are now working through the night on the weekends on a voluntary basis.
For the Maryborough Safety Network, this is just another challenge to overcome in the future.
“We still have lots to do,” said Ms Hovard.