Safety summit set to be staged after community voices calls to “find solutions”
A municipality-wide community safety summit to be held later this year will aim to bring together stakeholders and residents’ groups to address neighbourhood safety concerns.
The City of Melbourne will convene the summit, which is expected to be held in August, after the initiative was discussed at a Presidents of Residents’ Associations meeting with the council on June 24.
While details of the summit have yet to be formally announced, it is understood the summit will “explore proactive actions to make the city feel safe for all”.
It comes as residents and traders have expressed alarm over a spate of incidents in Docklands in recent months including assaults and knife attacks including a 23-year-old man who was allegedly stabbed to death in March following an altercation in Bourke St, Docklands.
The community has also raised concerns about alcohol-fuelled violence, aggressive behaviour, and the need for a stronger police presence.
The Docklands Representative Group (DRG) said it had been involved with the City of Melbourne through the Presidents of Residents’ Associations sessions, where it had directly raised issues of concern for residents – in particular, late-night alcohol-fuelled incidents.
“The wellbeing and safety of people – at all times of the day and night – is of paramount importance to both the liveability and economic viability of Docklands,” a DRG spokesperson said.
“You can’t have one without the other – and that’s something that decision-makers must understand. The challenge is to find the sweet spot for economic development and liveability.”
The DRG also recently hosted a DOCN (Docklands Owners’ Corporation Network) forum on safety in high-rise residential buildings.
Victoria Police maintained that Uniform Branch officers were supported by the Public Order Response Team, Mounted Branch, Dog Squad, Highway Patrol, Transit police and PSOs to regularly patrol the city every Friday and Saturday night to respond to any issues including anti-social behaviour.
Docklands News has been told that a draft agenda is being collated for the safety summit with residents’ groups and the council agreeing it would provide a “strategic and overarching approach” to safety which “doesn’t overlap with other meetings/discussions currently taking place between residents groups and police”.
The meeting also agreed it “should be wary of conflating safety with homelessness” and noted the need to involve the state government in the summit and continue future “ongoing discussions”.
It also heard some members are “keen to progress discussions” regarding police resourcing and increased patrolling while residents’ groups also hope the summit can propose solutions “but also be clear on what the City of Melbourne can and cannot deliver”.
According to the City of Melbourne’s new online interactive CBD neighbourhood portal, the council said it was working with Victoria Police and other agencies “to deliver initiatives that improve safety on the streets of Melbourne and within our communities”. A portal for the Docklands neighbourhood will be launched later this year.
The summit follows the launch of a Neighbourhood Policing model, an initiative launched by Victoria Police in April with the “back-to-basics” approach aiming to work closely with the community in addressing local safety issues.
The City of Melbourne has been contacted for comment regarding the summit. •
Caption: The scene following a recent break-in at Pok Pok Thai restaurant on Bourke St.