February 24, 2010
The State and Federal Governments are failing to recognise increased levels of violence and anti-social behaviour in regional communities such as Traralgon according to The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.
Mr Chester last week attended a meeting with the Traralgon CBD Safety Committee. The committee has been continually searching for government funding to assist in the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV), operation of a night-rider bus service and employment of security guards at taxi ranks.
He said despite repeated requests from the committee for government funding there has been no support forthcoming.
“The State and Federal Governments share a fundamental responsibility to protect the community and provide law and order on our streets,” Mr Chester said.
“It’s deplorable that after more than 10 years under the Bracks and Brumby Labor Governments, families in several towns across Gippsland don’t feel safe walking the streets after dark.
“For its part, the Rudd Government is refusing to provide funding for important community safety initiatives, like CCTV, which has the support of local safety committees.
“I’ve spoken about the issue in Parliament and stressed the point that local residents are telling me they want action, including a stronger police presence and community-based measures to prevent crime.”
Statistics released late last year showed that assault offences in Traralgon had increased by 15% since 2006/07, including an 80% increase in assaults on victims unknown to offenders during the same period.
In addition more than 600 responses to a community survey conducted by The Nationals Member for Morwell Russell Northe collated in January resulted in 92% of respondents indicating they would like more police on the streets and 91% supporting tougher penalties on people found guilty of alcohol-related assaults.
“The issues surrounding violence and anti-social behaviour are complex and the solutions start with encouraging young people to be involved in community and sporting organisations and developing respect for others,” Mr Chester said.
“But there is a key role for governments in delivering funding to develop local solutions which engage young people in community activities and providing police to enforce the standards that we demand as a society.
“Safety within our communities is everybody’s problem. It needs to be made a national priority and I believe it’s time for a national strategy with more resources to combat the problem.
“In the case of the Traralgon CBD Safety Committee, there is strong support from the broader community and local police to build on the initiatives put forward and develop local solutions to reduce the incidence of street violence.
“But to enable these ideas to be implemented and achieve positive results the Rudd Government needs to show a commitment to reducing anti-social behaviour by investing in grassroots community crime prevention programs.”
Under the previous Federal Government, $65.5 million was allocated over four years to the National Community Crime Prevention Program until June 2008. The Attorney-General’s office has advised that all available funding has been utilised.
Mr Chester has again made representations to the Attorney General seeking funding to support community organisations such as the Traralgon CBD Safety Committee.