REPORTS of escalating antisocial behaviour in Bowen have prompted member for Orange Andrew Gee to attack the problem head-on.
Mr Gee rallied representatives from a selection of the city’s key organisations, including Housing Plus, the Department of Education, Family and Community Services (FACS) and the police, to join forces and address some of the problems plaguing the area including vandalism, theft, and the residents’ concerns over their safety.
A multi-agency co-operative approach, know as the Family Case Management strategy, has been operating in Orange for some time, allowing various agencies to confidentially share information about individual families.
However Mr Gee decided to step it up a notch with key stakeholders, including Orange councillor Ron Gander and a selection of school principals, pledging to meet regularly to tackle problems in the area and find solutions.
The group has already met twice in March and once in April, with plans to meet again later this month.
“It required immediate action, we needed a comprehensive approach to the problem,” Mr Gee said.
“There’s no point telling the police that they’ve got to fix it because this is not solely a crime issue, there are some difficult social problems in some parts of Orange.”
Mr Gee said having various organisations working together and talking and sharing information has advantages for all concerned and allows the various parties to target their resources at fixing the specific problems.
Mr Gee said many of the problems in Bowen arise from social disadvantage, with frequent reports of truancy in the area, with some of those children using their spare time to get involved in criminal behaviour.
“It’s certainly a concern that this is happening, we need to make sure that as many kids as possible are on the right track,” he said.
“We want parents to play as active a role in their children’s lives as possible but they may need help.
“If parents do need help, we need to give it to them.”
Mr Gee said police had recently stepped up their presence in the area, and were relying on members of the public to work with them.
“We need as many residents as possible, when they see criminal activity or antisocial behaviour, to report it to police,” he said.
“They can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 anonymously.”
Mr Gee said it was concerning that many residents in Bowen feared for their own safety. “Most people in the area are good, hard-working, law-abiding people and the trouble is caused by a very small number of people,” he said.