NSW Greens spokesperson on Night-time Culture and Economy and Member for Newtown Jenny Leong MP says that the locally-led response taken in Newtown shows that there are real alternatives to blanket lockout laws.
“While the latest BOCSAR statistics on assaults seem to confirm that the community's concern that imposition of the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross lockouts would push violence and anti-social behaviour to nearby suburbs, the specific stats for Newtown are showing that reported assaults have remained stable, even with a significant increase in visitor numbers. Targeted, community-led solutions can have an impact," said Ms Leong.
“Around 70 people attended our recent public meeting and many more gave feedback via an online survey run by the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre. Overwhelmingly, locals told us that they want Newtown to be a place that is friendly and open to visitors, but emphasised that everyone on our streets and in our venues needs to act respectfully.
“At the meeting we reported back on the Vibe Roundtable, which brought together stakeholders who have been monitoring the mood in Newtown and working together on local solutions to maintain the safety and vibrancy of the local neighbourhood.
“For 18 months our locally-led committee has responded to the challenges faced by our local community. We don’t claim to have solved all the issues, but we have responded to concerns and collaborated to minimise the impacts and changes in our area.
“People have reported that Newtown is still a welcoming place where they generally feel safe and where diversity is accepted. However there is a feeling that the welcoming vibe is under threat, because of low-level harassment that has changed the mood on the streets. Our community now needs to work together to address that.
“The hard-line, blanket response of the lockouts punishes everybody, including the vast majority of people who act responsibly. People should be allowed to dance until dawn if they want to or go out for a late-night drink, as long as they’re not behaving badly.
“A more collaborative response is what’s needed, with Government, emergency services, Councils, creative communities, businesses and venues working together with the community on measures that directly address alcohol fuelled violence and aggression," she said.
The Newtown Vibe Roundtable working group was established in 2015, as an initiative between the local member Jenny Leong MP and the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre. The Roundtable has included around 40 participants with representatives from the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Newtown Police, the Newtown Precinct Business Association, the Liquor Accord, ACON, Reclaim the Streets, the Inner West and City of Sydney Councils and the office of Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown. A report on the Roundtable can be found here.
The ‘Protecting the Vibe Community Meeting’, was held at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on Wednesday 14 March. Around 70 local community members attended, to hear from the Roundtable working group, and to share their thoughts and ideas.