OUR SAY: No quick fix for Bowen's problems

ORANGE has come up against antisocial behaviour and vandalism by children and teenagers before and overcome it, but the problem has returned and there will be no easy fix.

As Bowen resident and city councillor Ron Gander has said, a great deal of work on community engagement and improving facilities succeeded in reducing problems in Bowen. 

A fall in vandalism and petty crime also coincided with a significant investment in social housing and community facilities by Housing NSW.

But in recent months the problems have resurfaced. People using the hockey complex have been complaining about the offensive language and behaviour of children wandering through the area and fences and other property being damaged.

Also in east Orange, but on the northern side of the highway, residents who have invested their savings and their time in former public housing stock are regretting the decision.

The escalation in petty street crime, vandalism and antisocial behaviour is not just a problem for police. It will require a coordinated approach from police, council, NSW Housing and the Department of Community Services.

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There is more than enough feedback from residents for police and DOCS to get a clear indication of where these mostly-juvenile troublemakers live and who should be taking responsibility for them. Sadly, little is going to change until the adults supervising these children start living up to their responsibilities.

But as with most situations where the goal is achieving behavioural change, police action and legal sanctions alone won’t get the job done.

Certainly there will need to be some stern action from police and DOCS, but this needs to be backed up with support for parents and carers of children who seem accountable to no-one.

The problem has got way beyond being an annoyance for residents trying to get on with their lives. 

When they are afraid of leaving their homes unattended or walking down the street it is time for law enforcement and government agencies to sit down and plan a response.

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