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Alcohol free plea

Friday, 5th December, 2008

By Stefan Delatovic

Residents of Creedon Street have called for their neighbourhood to become an Alcohol Free Zone, and they have a lot of support.

Fed up with a minority of residents drinking and fighting in the street and a lack of support from the community and its organisations, a group led by Muriel Riley are taking the situation into their own hands.

Ms Riley spoke at Wednesday night's monthly meeting of City Council in support of the plan.She said that many in the neighbourhood looked up to her as an Aboriginal Elder and had asked her to lead the charge, and she has.

Because of her work, Council on Wednesday considered her letter asking for the Alcohol Free Zone, a petition from 30 people voicing their support, and letters of recommendation from a number of organisations.

The Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation, Compass Housing Services, the Broken Hill Aboriginal Working Party, Local Member John Williams, Housing Minister

Matt Brown and NSW Police Barrier Local Area Commander Dickson all contributed letters of support.

In his letter, Superintendent Dickson said police had received 36 calls for assistance from the area during November, 13 of which were for alcohol-related street crime. He estimated over 100 alcohol-related street crime incidents had occurred in the area during the last year.

The Aboriginal Working Party wrote that an Alcohol Free Zone was an important step in addressing disadvantage and alcohol abuse, which arose from a complex combination of factors faced by the indigenous community.

Council endorsed the plan and will refer it to the relevant Aboriginal organisations and solicit public comment. The zone would be bounded by Rakow and Wills Streets and could be in place by the middle of February.

Council's Administrator Ken Boyle said it had been an easy decision.

"It's unusual to have an Alcohol Free Zone that does not include any licensed venues, but it's not unique to the region. Council is really going with public sentiment on this, there's widespread support," he said.

After the meeting Ms Riley said an Alcohol Free Zone could drive bad behaviour back into the homes of residents. At present people drank late into the night in the middle of the street, leading to domestic violence, vandalism, and a generally unpleasant situation for all.

"They make everybody look bad," she said.

"And most of the ones doing it don't live there, they've visiting. But people drive through and see all those people and think that we're all doing it."

"When my husband and I lived in Mootawingee we'd drive through Creedon Street and it was a nice, quiet place. But it's gotten worse now and the loud ones are driving out the quiet ones."

Ms Riley's concern is for the children, who she says are learning bad behaviour from their parents in a street that some never leave.

"They see their parents out in the middle of the road and they won't move for cars, they have to go around," she said,

"So the young ones are playing chicken with the cars, 'cause that's what they think you do. Those big trucks can't stop quickly. Someone will be killed."

"The kids think it's a way of life."

Just as some people never left the street, Ms Riley said, few people ever came in from the outside.

"The police don't come or they take too long. The others won't help. We call DoCS and they can't do anything. They give too many warnings.

No-one does anything,"said Ms Riley.

Ms Riley and other residents will return to the January Council meeting when the issue will be up for discussion again.

"We're going to do what we can about it," she said.

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