A pilot program designed to reduce alcohol-related violence among young people late at night has been so successful over the busy summer period it has been extended for another three months.
Safe Space, a joint initiative between the City of Sydney, NSW Government, The Salvation Army and Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, offers first aid, water, phone access and transport information to young people who may be intoxicated or affected by drugs.
In the program’s first 11 weeks, 130 volunteers provided support to more than 1,700 people – including giving first aid to 200 people, charging 170 phones, and handing out 2,300 bottles of water and 250 pairs of thongs.
NSW Attorney General Brad Hazzard said the government was so pleased with the outcomes, it was investing an extra $37,500 to allow the Safe Space to operate until the end of May.
“I spent Friday evening with the Safe Space team and was impressed with the great work they are doing to help vulnerable youth get home safely,” Mr Hazzard said.
“The volunteers are late-night guardian angels who have a calming influence on revellers, providing practical help in a friendly and non-judgmental environment.”
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said: “It’s vital we do everything we can to reduce alcohol-related violence on Sydney’s streets and create the safest possible environment for young people out at night.
“This program is an important addition to our program of late-night safety initiatives and I’m sure it will continue to make a difference to those in need.”
The Safe Space operates in Sydney Square next to Town Hall from 10pm to 4am on Friday and Saturday nights.
A team of specially trained Salvation Army volunteers, the Take Kare Ambassadors, is on hand at the Safe Space and throughout the CBD entertainment precinct to offer assistance and practical advice.
Ralph and Kathy Kelly from the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation said: “The Safe Space has made such a positive difference throughout the initial trial period, and we're excited this preventative initiative is going to continue.
“It's proven its worth by keeping people safe and having the program continue will see even more young people get home without harm.”
The Safe Space team has received positive feedback from several young people they have assisted – including nineteen-year-old Kate, who praised the volunteers for assisting her intoxicated friend following a concert at the Metro Theatre on George Street one Friday night.
“The volunteers acted professionally and with care – they helped my friend into a taxi, and from there we all got home safely,” Kate said.
“I would like to express my gratitude for this new program, and to the amazing volunteers for helping my friends and I when we needed it. I think this is an excellent initiative for Sydney’s night life, and something I know myself and many other people will find beneficial in the future.”
The Salvation Army’s Safe Space team leader, Nate Brown, said: “The pilot has been a great success – we've had hundreds of people from the community put their hand up to volunteer, and people on the street have really appreciated having the ambassadors around the city on weekends.
“Most importantly, there have been many times we've been able to help people who have been in very vulnerable situations.
“When a young person comes into the city to have a good time with their friends, they should never be at risk of a violent attack or sexual assault. The Safe Space and Take Kare Ambassadors are playing a key role in minimising the chances of this happening.”
The Safe Space trial will now continue until the end of May, when the NSW Government and the City will conduct an evaluation of the service and make a decision about its future.
City of Sydney – Keeley Irvin
Phone 0448 005 718 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Attorney General Brad Hazzard – Chi Tranter
Phone 0439 634 032 or email email@example.com