Safer streets project aims to stop the violence
Drunk or drug affected people in entertainment areas on the Sunshine Coast who start fights or break the law will face firmer penalties under the Safe Night Out Strategy released by the State LNP Government today (March 23).
At this stage, the Sunshine Coast is one of fifteen areas that have been nominated to have a ‘Safe Night Precinct’under the 12 month trial by the State Government aimed at reducing drug and alcohol fuelled violence.
Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson said the Safe Night Out Strategy will focus on those who commit the crime rather than those out to have a great safe night out.
“It’s the bad behaviour of a few who are ruining it for others. That is where the focus of the plan is, on tougher penalties for offenders, stricter management of responsible service of alcohol and greater education,” she said.
The draft strategy which was released by Premier Newman today (Sunday March 23) for one month’s public consultation is based upon feedback from across Queensland with strong input from more than 1000 Sunshine Coast residents concerned about drunk and drug affected people on the streets.
Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson also ran an on-line live forum on Facebook attracting more than 100 comments and more than 8000 people viewing posts as part of the feedback.
The draft Action Plan is being released for public consultation for one month until Monday, 21 April 2014 and can be accessed at State MPs or offices or by going to www.qld.gov.au/safenightout for public comment for four weeks, with the final plan subject to review in 12 months.
As a starting point in the proposed Action Plan, the Sunshine Coast was nominated to have one ‘Safe Night Precinct’ but it was acknowledged that Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore and Noosa each had vibrant entertainment precincts.
Ms Simpson said the location and need for a Safe Night Precinct will be the subject of consultation, involving existing liquor accords, councils, police and, of course, the public, as areas such as Maroochydore and Mooloolaba both had late-opening entertainment areas.
“It is important that this consultation phase provides opportunity for input into how best local communities can be involved in identifying the most suitable on the ground implementation of the plan for the areas where it is needed.”
Key elements of the draft Safe Night Out Strategy include:
* The establishment of 15 Safe Night Precincts with local boards to safely and effectively manage key entertainment areas across Queensland and continued funding of existing support services
*Compulsory alcohol and drug education would be introduced in all Queensland schools from Years 7 to 12
*Tougher penalties for people behaving badly or violently around licensed premises including increased on the spot fines for causing a public nuisance, refusing to leave licensed premises and obstructing police
*’Coward punch’ deaths will be punishable through a new offence of unlawful striking causing death with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and offenders required to serve 80% of their sentence before being able to apply for parole
*A 12 month trial of ‘sober safe centres’ in the Brisbane CBD where police can detain severely intoxicated people in a secure, supervised centre for up to eight hours
*Empowering police to issue banning orders and ensuring police have the resources to have a presence and ability to respond quickly to alcohol and drug related violence
*Stronger and better co-ordinated action to ensure licensees provide a safe environment and comply with liquor licensing rules, including ‘mystery shopper’ style tests
*Mandatory ID scanners in venues trading after midnight in ‘Safe Night Precincts’
*An awareness campaign, including advertising, to promote clear standards of responsible behaviour for patrons, licensees and police
*An extension of the moratorium on decisions about late night trading hours to 31 August 2014 to allow the measures in the action plan to be established and take effect.
Premier Campbell Newman said education and awareness campaigns both within schools and the wider community were crucial to promote the importance of responsible behaviour.
“Young people need to know what sort of behaviour is expected of them when they reach drinking age,” Mr Newman said.
“Just as the culture around drink driving has changed, so too must community attitudes to excessive drinking and drug use.”