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This article was published in The Daily Advertiser on 21 February 2021 Click here to read the full article

Wagga residents voice safety, crime concerns ahead of new plan of attack

 Picture: FILE

Residents and members of the city’s crime prevention scene have been invited to raise their concerns and ideas around safety and criminal activity to form the basis of a new plan of attack to boost Wagga’s liveability.

Wagga Neighbourhood Watch President Wayne Deaner said the chance to voice opinions would act as a ‘reality check’ for many in the community who turn a blind eye to crime.

“A lot of people might be sitting in their [ivory] tower with no clue of what some suburbs are like, so this will bring people back in touch with reality,” he said.

“Places like Ashmont and Tolland really are warzones, and we need to understand why and what’s going on before it can be fixed.

Wagga City Council recently released a survey to the LGA in order to gain anonymous feedback for the development of a Community Safety Plan 2025.

One of the biggest issues Mr Deaner said he hoped to see addressed in the plan was more accountability from support organisations.

Click here to take the Community Safety Survey.

 Click here to take the Community Safety Survey.

“Places like Family and Social Housing Services, social workers and such should be stepping up to their role and taking initiative,” he said.

“People are trashing homes, selling drugs or stolen items and working illegally out of these properties, and yet nothing gets said or done about it.

“Even regular inspections would go a long way, you’d take one step inside and see the damage and illegal activity and that way action could be taken.”

With ongoing calls for more social housing and the current Tolland Renewal Project underway, Mr Deaner said the situation needed more than “just money”.

“You don’t need to go spending a million dollars on closing laneways in Tolland or building more houses, there are other ways of addressing the issue,” he said.

“More houses also won’t change people’s behaviour.

“I’ve had, for instance, a total of about 213 complaints against one social housing resident in the past, and because nothing was done, the residents complaining took it upon themselves to trash that person’s house and smash the windows just to get rid of them.”

Mr Deaner added that better communication between police, Centrelink, the courts and FACS would be beneficial.

“We need everyone to pitch in and play their part,” he said.

Social Planner Lisa Saffery said by asking the community what they feared, meaningful action could be taken.

“We want to know how safe you feel in your home, neighbourhood, suburb or rural village across the entire Wagga Local Government Area,” she said.

Like its predecessor the Crime Prevention Plan 2021, the Community Safety Action Plan 2025 will map out practical improvements that Council, other agencies and stakeholders can make to improve community safety.

“We are encouraging everyone in the community to complete this survey to let us know their concerns and suggestions,” Ms Saffery said.

Neighbourhood Watch representative of the Wagga Crime Prevention Working Group, Colin Taggart, said he was looking forward to seeing the end result.

“This will give us a gauge of the community’s anxieties and concerns and allow us and the council to take positive initiative,” he said.

Community members are encouraged to visit connect.wagga.nsw.gov.au/safety and complete the survey. The survey is open until 5pm, 12 March 2021.

The draft Community Safety Action Plan 2025 will be available for public feedback at a later date in 2021.

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