House debates

Monday, 24 June 2013


Hasluck Electorate: Community Safety

10:19 pm

Photo of Ken WyattKen Wyatt (Hasluck, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Community safety is one of the most important issues raised with me. Members of my community want to feel safe in their own house and in their own street, in their own neighbourhood and when they visit their own local corner store. They have every right to feel safe in our community, but more and more they are not feeling safe. There is a growing sense of concern about local crime and residents are worried that they are being held to ransom by the fear of break-ins, violence and antisocial behaviour. In some of our local suburbs children are young as toddlers and as old as 12 years of age are terrorising local residents by damaging property, playing chicken with traffic and yelling harassing language. This is a particular example from Midvale and it is far from an isolated example.

Recently I invited the police minister, Lisa Harvey MLA, to meet with local shopping centre owners and managers from my community to discuss the challenges they are facing the keep patrons safe in their shopping centres. Shopping centre managers reported to me that some of the crime activity being perpetrated is very serious, including weapons being pulled on shoppers, child gangs harassing elderly shoppers and stealing. Unfortunately, some children are watching their parents walk out on liquor stores with a shopping trolley full of alcohol or, as one IGA reported to me, customers concealing food in their clothing. Young children are watching this behaviour and then emulating it. They think that they can get away with it, abusing small local business owners verbally and causing untold damage to their stores. One example that was shared with me was a group of children aged approximately six to eight years old who set fire to a teller machine at Mannington shopping centre in an attempt to extract money.

It is important that the fabric of our society is mended. We need a stronger local community and we need to work hard to build up our community. What is clear is that there is no silver bullet to fix this problem. This will take the combined force of our entire community to achieve a positive change. This is why I have been meeting with residents, community groups and small businesses from across my electorate to identify where the problem spots are and what the causes are and what the practical solutions might be. What is abundantly clear is that we need to increase safety in my community with more resources, both police resources and monitoring resources. My community needs a strong law enforcement presence to act as a deterrent for all antisocial behaviour.

We need to be able to monitor behaviour in local crime hot spots to allow police resources to be directed to where they are needed and when they are needed. We can increase community safety and cut down on local crime through local programs such as the great closed circuit television camera program that the city of Swan has adopted in Midland. The positive response that this program is having is why I am fighting for better access to CCTV resources, both mobile and fixed devices, across the Hasluck region through the coalition's Plan for Safer Streets program.

A program such as this can be effectively administered by either local government or a local community organisation and will provide a tremendous deterrent to offenders. But a higher law enforcement presence is not a solution on its own. We also need better community support, to engage with young offenders and potential offenders to prevent school-aged people from turning to antisocial behaviour. We need stronger, more effective community programs to take these young people off the streets and provide mental and social support to help them cope with the difficulties they are experiencing at home and elsewhere.

We need more programs such as the one that the Gosnells PCYC is implementing. The Gosnells PCYC does a fantastic job of working with young, local people to offer vital support in a non-threatening environment.

Community crime cannot be blamed on unemployed young adults. To take this view would be simplistic and narrow-minded. Most of the offenders are either school-aged or much older. Unemployment is not the cause. While in some cases it may be a contributing factor, we need to look at local crime through the cultural lens of all factors leading to this behaviour—engagement with education, a breakdown of traditional family values and cost-of-living pressures. Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own community. We need to work together to build a safer local community for everyone to enjoy.