Yarra Ranges drug crisis: what’s next?

Crown Hotel Manager Paul Wallace supports a harsh stance on drug crime.

                                  Crown Hotel Manager, Paul Wallace supports a harsher stance on drug crime.

SHOCKING increases in drug offences have put into question our methods to combat the ever-dangerous substance abuse issue in Melbourne’s outer east.

The Yarra Ranges Police service area’s drug crime increased by 13.1 per cent in the past year according to Victoria Police’s My Place statistics page. Victoria Police’s 2013/14 crime statistics also showed a 15.4 per cent substance offence increase in our Eastern region.

Belgrave Police Sergeant Mick Hall believes drug use in the area is only going to get worse.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the figures keep on increasing because they impact on other crimes. People want their drugs and then they run out of money so they have to commit crime to keep the drugs. It is a viscous circle,” said Hall.

A frightening example of this substance crime was the pepper spraying of 6 youths at Lilydale Lake on August 27. Police were alerted via a triple zero call to help neutralise 20-30 alcohol affected youths who were throwing bottles and abusing other patrons of the lake.

Sgt Hall was the supervising officer during the incident and believes that the spray was and is only used to protect officers.

“The spray is basically used there for our self defence. We can’t use it on passive people; they’ve got to be people who we perceive are going to inflict injury, attack us or attack other people. It must be a serious or imminent risk for us to deploy that [spray],” said Hall.

Sgt Hall also believes that rehabilitating and counselling victims of drug use is a better way to combat the problem. Sprays and aggressive methods only work as a short-term fix according to Hall.

“Sending them through diversion programs rather than just charging them and leaving them [is better to stop drug abuse], especially people caught the first time with illicit drugs. They are diverted away from a court system with diversion notices, rather than charging them,” said Hall.

Yet, manager of the Crown Hotel in Lilydale, Paul Wallace has had to install tight security to stop drug users affecting his business and agrees with a tougher stance on drug crime.

“If they are taking it [drugs] there is no problem with it [pepper spray]. You have to deal with the problem some way. When they [users] are drug affected they seem to be not easy to handle; they have increased strength and you couldn’t tell what they are about to do either. Police have got to do what they got to do to create some order,” said Wallace.

Sgt Hall has also said that Victoria Police must target homemade drug production if they have any hope of limiting substance abuse in the area.

“The prevalence of drugs is going to always increase because now people or groups of persons want to manufacture their own. In the past it was all imported but now with meth labs going on people will manufacture or attempt to manufacture their own,” said Hall.

PM Attacked In Violent Student Protest

3/9/14

The Students Fighting For Change (SSFC) have denied any of their members were violent during the protest  that saw Tony Abbott rushed by students. 

According to SSFC president Matt Hampton, the only violence during the 300 large protest came from Victoria Police. 

“No one in the protest was violent. There was absolutely no violence whatsoever apart from the Victorian police who move in on us,” said Hampton. 

Hampton claims that the two men were arrested and one was actually unconscious during his arrest. 

Yet, despite the arrests and condemnation from Prime Minister Tony Abbott the SSFC will continue to protest against the government’s proposed 30% increase to the HECS-HELP scheme.


3/9/14 6pm

Five Victorian students have been arrested for their violent behaviour that caused Tony Abbot to be pushed in the back and a drink bottle to be thrown at his head. 

One 19 year old man from Carlton North was charged with assault and another 22 year old man from Thornbury was charged with discharging a missile. Three women aged 25, 18 and 21 were also charged with resisting and hindering the police. 

The three women have been released pending court appearances while the men are still in police custody. 

Due to the violence from the 300 large student protest police were forced to use capsicum spray to stop protesters rushing speakers, entering town hall and disobeying police. 

These students were  protesting government’s proposed increase to 30% increase to the HECS-HELP scheme at Melbourne Town Hall today . 


3/9/14 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has condemned the actions of the university student protesters who turned violent and rushed him during today’s Public Transport Solutions Conference at Melbourne Town Hall.

Speaking on behalf of Abbott, spokesperson John Mitchell says Abbott was unhurt from the attack that saw him be pushed in the back by two men and have a drink bottle thrown at him by another man. All of whom were protesting Abbott’s increases to student fees in the budget. 

“The Prime Minister was not hurt by the protesters as he left Melbourne Town Hall and he applauds the good work of police and government security officers,” said Mitchell. 

Mitchell continued to explain how the proposed 30% increase to the HECS-HELP scheme was made with student’s welfare in mind. 

“The government’s amendments to the HECS-HELP scheme have been designed with students as the very first priority. In addition this students will be able to repay their loans once they have graduated.”

“It is fair for people to pay for a university degree. They will have significantly higher income as a consequence of that degree.”


3/9/14 

Violent scenes are now developing at Melbourne Town Hall with Prime Minister Tony Abbott attacked by three university student protesters according to 3AW. 

Three men got past police and rushed Abbott as he was leaving the Town hall. Two of the men managed to push Abbott in the back while another threw a drink bottle at his head. The Prime Minister is believed to be unhurt and the men have been arrested by police. 

A police blockade was also needed to stop approximately 300 students protesting Tony Abbott’s proposed 30% increase to the HECS-HELP scheme. 

Students are angry that this scheme could cost them $15000 for the life of a loan and inhibit some students from achieving the tertiary education they desire. 


3/9/14 1pm

Police are at Melbourne Town Hall to control the approximately 300 university student protesters at PM Tony Abbott’s Public Transport Solutions Conference. 

No arrests have been made. However there are both mounted and foot officers are in attendance to ensure the safety of the speakers protesting the increase to the HECS-HELP scheme. 

Students are outraged over the proposed 30% increase that  could cost them $15000 for the life of a loan and stop students getting higher education. 


2/9/14 1pm 

Students from across Victoria will be fighting against the Abbott Government’s increase to university fees at a rally during the Prime Ministers press conference on public transport tomorrow afternoon. 

The Students Fighting For Change (SSFC) consist of students from Melbourne University, Monash University, Deakin University, Latrobe University and RMIT will be protesting Abbott’s proposed 30% increase to the HECS-HELP scheme at Melbourne Town Hall. 

According to SSFC president Matt Hampton these feels are exorbitant and unfair and could cost students as much as $15000 for the life of a loan. 

“Australia’s students are the next generation of workers. Why should they be held back by dramatic fee increases that only serve to top up government coffers?” said Hampton. 

There is real concern by students that these fee increases will limit student’s opportunities to receive higher education.  

[This story has been changed since the original publication on 3/9/14 due to minor inaccuracies and mistakes in Journalistic style] 

CCTV Conflict: South Melbourne Divided on Crime

CCTV camera

Courtesy of theguardian.com

Photo by: Martin Godwin


South Melbourne Police are struggling to convince councils and the community that alternative measures like CCTV cameras are needed to combat crime.

This push for cameras has likely been sparked by the 3.7 per cent increase in Victoria’s crime rate in 2013-2014. Police are also concerned over the 18.7 per cent increase in handling stolen goods and the 9.2 per cent increase in motor vehicle theft.

Sergeant Alex Griffith of South Melbourne Police is an advocate for CCTV cameras and feels they will decrease theft and improve security.

“We have a lot of thefts and if there is no CCTV or the CCTV is very poor we actually have very little investigative work that we can do.”

“If places do have decent CCTV we always have a better chance of being able to solve those crimes because we circulate the stills that we get through our area and quite often the offenders are nominated if we don’t know who they are,” she said.

Yet despite police worries, some community members and councils are not ready to commit to these new measures.

Nearby Glen Eira Council recently declined $300,000 of government funding for CCTV cameras in Carnegie, citing that the cameras are not needed and are difficult to maintain.

Additionally, South Melbourne mother of two Debbie Thomson believes the area is quite safe and does not need cameras.

“I know they [CCTV] are a deterrent and I am all for them being there to catch people like this [criminals]. But people wear hoods and sunglasses, it’s hard to recognise half the people you see on Crime Stoppers you can hardly make out who it is and that’s all images from CCTV.”

“I feel safe when we [her and her children] are in the park, we frequent around this area, walking along Bay Street there’s never any concern about the people that are around. I never feel unsafe, I never feel threatened,” Thomson said.

“Please Sir Can I Have Some More” -Australian Actors To Gain Rights In Union Shift

Australian film actors will no longer be mistreated following the formation of the ‘Movie Actors Guild of Australia’ yesterday after 6 months of tireless lobbying in Sydney.

Chief organisers Fred Bloggs and Fiona Bloggs petitioned the change because they felt the ‘Actors Union of Australia’ wasn’t tuned in to the specific needs of actors. 

“They [Actors Union of Australia] represent the views of too many professions, so they couldn’t be unbiased in representing the views of movie actors” said Fiona. 

More than 100 actors also broke away from the ‘Actors Union of Australia’ because of their bias towards hiring of Australian actors according to Fred Bloggs. 

“We needed a new union because the Actors Union of Australia was trying to minimise the hiring of overseas actors for parts in Australian films that could be played by Australian actors” said Fred. 

This change should be a huge boost to the industry according to the organisers, as many overseas actors are needed to draw in the lucrative American market.

THREE SORRENTO FIREMEN MISSING

stock image courtesy of steber.com.au

Stock image courtesy of steber.com.au

Three local firemen have disappeared and are presumed dead while fishing in their fibreglass runabout off the coast of Sorrento last night.

Victoria Police began their search this morning after they were informed at 4am that Fred Smith, John Taylor and Bill Shmith had not returned home.

However, Inspector Rod Cathall was not optimistic that they will find the men alive due to the freezing weather conditions.

Hayden Grewsome, a spokesperson for the Victorian Bureau of Meteorology mirrored these sentiments as the bureau had recorded the coldest August night in 23 years overnight.

“It was the kind of weather that kills people” said Grewsome when asked about the men’s chances for survival.

This tragedy should send a shock through the community as the men are senior members of the local tennis club and are known for their fire fighting.