Questions 5 April 2016

Question at Council meeting 5 April

 What has Council done regarding anti social behaviour in Victoria St surrounds since 2006

Response:
Anti-social issues in Victoria Street

1.      Council fully accepts its essential role in helping manage the safety and amenity impacts associated with illicit drug use.

2.      Council’s Health Plan identifies reducing the harms from alcohol and other drug use, as well as community safety as important priorities for Council and has invested significant effort and resources to reduce amenity, social and health impacts.

3.      Council provides ongoing  advocacy and support for harm reduction strategies as a means of improving public amenity and perceptions of safety.

4.      Council works extensively at the local, regional and state level to address community concerns in an evidence-based and partnership approach.

a.      Council has been a leading and active participant in Department of Health and Human Services Whole of Government Response to Alcohol and Other Drug Issues.

b.      Yarra officers have previously chaired and remain active participants in the Local Government Alcohol and Other Drug Issues Forum (LGAODIF) supported through the Municipal Association of Victoria. This forum supports Councils sharing their experiences and the effectiveness of different local responses to drug and alcohol issues.

c.      Council is a joint funder of the YDHF along with the Department of Health and Human Services. The YDHF brings together local services, Government Departments and Victoria Police officers to reflect on trends in local drug and alcohol issues and to discuss current and possible responses to reduce the harm from alcohol and other drugs.

d.      In partnership with non-government health and social services, peak bodies and the Victoria Police (i.e. co-produced and co-signed), Council developed an enhanced service response to reduce the impact on the general community: www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/services/Community-Planning/Illegal-drugs---minimising-harm.  Initiatives include the Protocol for the Management of Illicit Drug Use Issues committing local services and agencies to provide consistent information and service referrals to residents and local businesses.

e.      Following an independent review, a reformed Local Safety Reference Group has been established. Its membership includes Yarra’s Local Area Commander of Victoria Police, local health and social services agencies, and representatives from the State Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

5.      To manage amenity, Council contracts InnerSpace (cohealth) to provide a clean-up and monitoring service of drug hotspots. This entails running a phone hotline (1800 888 236) to respond to community requests, daily sweeps of the area to collect drug litter such as discarded syringes, monitoring hotspots and opportunistically engaging with people who use drugs. Syringe disposal units are also located throughout the City of Yarra to minimise discarded syringes and related drug paraphernalia.

6.      Council also invests heavily in service delivery and community development with our most disadvantaged residents and at-risk groups.

7.      Council remains concerned at the declining provision of community and health services to the homeless, people with poor mental health and / or drug and health addictions. Addressing disadvantage and poverty is the only means of reducing crime and safety concerns in the longer term.

8.      Council is acutely aware that North Richmond remains a focal point for the trade and misuse of illicit opiates and that living in that particular part of Yarra brings with it issues that most members of the wider community do not have to deal with on a daily basis.

9.      Changes to Victoria Street, such as the recent Gateway Project, have improved the appearance of the precinct for visitors, traders and local residents. In October this year Council adopted the Victoria Street Streetscape Masterplan which was informed by extensive research and robust community dialogue. The masterplan will guide future streetscape improvements in the Victoria Street precinct. In addition to this, a considerable volume of new residential and commercial developments are underway, in this precinct. These changes to Victoria Street will promote both the attractiveness and safety and of the shopping strip.

10.   Council officers have applied for two grant opportunities relating to the implementation of part of the Victoria Street Streetscape Masterplan. The first was the Victoria Government Public Safety Infrastructure Fund (unsuccessful), the second was the Federal Safer Streets programme (still awaiting grant outcome).

11.   Council upgraded Post Office Lane in Richmond (connects Victoria Street with the North Richmond Housing Estate). Upgrades included installing additional lighting, resurfacing the lane, installing drainage and painting of a mural.

12.   Council has installed a temporary park in Jonas Street (adjacent to North Richmond Train Station). 

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