News & Insight

Safer Sydney: Citizens' jury unites to tackle violence on the streets

It is a problem politicians and experts from law enforcement, the health sector and the community have failed to successfully tackle. Now 43 average citizens have been tasked with finding a way to reduce the violence on Sydney's streets while maintaining the city's vibrant nightlife.

The citizens' jury will consider increasing the number of alcohol-free zones, improving transport, breath-testing clubbers and pub-goers before letting them into licensed venues and educating people about the consequences of violence.

They spent Saturday night touring the city's entertainment precincts before spending the early hours of Sunday at the emergency department of St Vincent's Hospital in Darlinghurst, where both Thomas Kelly and fellow teen Daniel Christie died after being attacked.

The views of the jurors are as diverse as their backgrounds and they will spend the next three months examining the evidence before coming up with five recommendations to be presented to the state government and the City of Sydney.

A joint project between the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation and the newDemocracy Foundation, the jurors have been chosen at random, hail from different parts of Sydney, and range in age from their teens to their 70s.

Ralph Kelly, director of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, named in honour of his son who died after a street attack in Kings Cross in 2012, said the jury would provide valuable insight into the complex issue of violence in entertainment precincts.

''The jury will meet a host of people who are experts in their own fields, from the medical profession, the police, the hoteliers themselves,'' he said.

Juror Jeremy Crumblin, a 29-year-old firefighter from Kensington, said he joined the panel because he believed everyone should be able to enjoy Sydney's nightlife in safety.

''The people on this jury are all bringing their own backgrounds and ideas to get a positive result for Sydney,'' he said.

At 72, Ian Walker, a business consultant from Croydon Park, felt he could bring the wisdom of his years to the panel.

The newDemocracy Foundation's executive director Iain Walker said he was looking forward to seeing the panel's suggestions. ''We're going to run an experiment here, using regular people from the community who are … investing the effort to gain really good knowledge of a real world issue,'' he said.

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Published on by TKYF.