Keeping Cairns safe

In Cairns, as elsewhere, the fear for one's safety and the idea that crime is on the increase is not always matched by reality. An extensive survey of public safety and crime conducted in 1994 by the former Mulgrave Shire found that people feared crime far more than the statistics warranted. However, knowing that it is statistically unlikely is not much comfort if you fear you will be a victim.

Following amalgamation in 1995, the new Cairns City Council established a Community Safety Consultative Committee to address public safety issues so residents and visitors can enjoy Cairns without concern.

The Cairns program is unique for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was initiated by Council and has been strongly supported by the community, local police, community organisations and business.

"The approach has been to build community pride, with people working together to create proactive campaigns," said Cathy Boorman, Manager Community Services. "The program has been commended by Monash University criminologists and a number of Councils have shown interest in the process."

Council is also committed to undertaking necessary research and training to make this program an example of 'best practice'. Rather than stopping at the research stage, practical implementation and training for people who can make a difference is taking place.

Strategies put in place by the Committee have included the preparation of a Local Planning Policy. This focuses on town planning to maximise public safety, a community safety awareness campaign, active participation of young people in antibullying and vandalism projects and establishing a voluntary code of conduct for nightclubs and other businesses which market alcohol.

Displaced or homeless people are a high risk group to becoming victims of crime. With State Government funding, Council has recently opened a night shelter to accommodate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who may be sleeping in the streets or the City's parks and gardens.

As well as accommodation and meals, the shelter will provide counselling and help for those with medical or alcohol related problems.

In the pipeline are plans for an ongoing program of lighting and safety audits, publication of a Youth Activities Calendar for the Christmas holiday period and developing brochures offering safety tips to tourists.

A calendar of events where excess alcohol might be consumed will also be drawn up and strategies will be put in place to encourage moderation. A network of high tech security cameras has also been installed in the CBD as part of Council's City Safe program. With a fast growing population and a large tourist industry, Council is determined that residents and visitors can explore Cairns and all it has to offer without fear for their safety.

For further information contact Cathy Boorman, telephone (07) 4044 3044.