Safety in our multi-use precinct
Night-time activities in Docklands have shone a light on the impact of noise upon our community, and great effort has been made to capture data on sound levels, trajectories, penetrations and impact, which is all important work.
But there is also the companion issue of safety around these night-time activations, with many reports of anti-social behaviour, often by highly intoxicated patrons.
Sadly, this is not a new issue in Docklands, and our neighbourhood has previously had the moniker of “Drunklands”.
The Docklands Representative Group (DRG) has long campaigned against strategies that rely on “activating through alcohol”, as the impact of such approaches lingers long with areas becoming known for public intoxication and, consequently, they are actively avoided, most especially by family groups.
Instead, new social trends, like the “sober curious” movement, could be leveraged.
“Sober curious” is a social wellness movement that involves self-selecting out of alcohol consumption at times, without abstaining from drinking altogether. It is part of a larger trend in alcohol consumption in Australia, which has seen decreasing alcohol use with “young people” driving this trend. In fact, Melbourne boasts Australia’s first non-alcoholic bar, Brunswick Aces Bar. And even Dan Murphy’s first bar, ZERO%, has a menu of more than 30 zero-alcohol drinks.
Admittedly, there are programs already in place that seek to mitigate some negative impacts of the night-time economy, such as City of Melbourne’s Project Night Justice, which states, “everyone has the right to enjoy the city after dark.”
Project Night Justice is a collection of initiatives aimed at improving night safety in the city and includes a public sexual violence awareness campaign in partnership with Crime Stoppers. Unfortunately, participation remains voluntary, and it would be interesting to know which venues in Docklands have signed up to the Night Safety Charter.
And, of course, Victoria Police are central to promoting safety in Docklands.
Through its new Neighbourhood Policing model, Victoria Police has stated a commitment to working alongside community to develop local solutions to local safety problems.
Two components of this are a Local Safety Committee (on which the DRG participates) and a dedicated Neighbourhood Policing Coordinator.
As of January, with Constable Mitch Hoare departing for Tasmania, Docklands has a new Neighbourhood Policing Coordinator, Senior Constable James Vass.
The DRG recently met with Senior Constable Vass, who sees the diversity in Docklands as “dynamic and exciting to be involved with” and he is keen to better understand the complexity of our vertical suburb.
Senior Constable Vass also points out that while types of complaints are common across all communities, the same issue can impact people differently.
By this he means that the key to devising solutions is to unpack the issue according to local circumstances and the specific people involved – the devil being in the detail.
Senior Constable Vass is keen to engage locally and can be contacted on: [email protected]. •