Police lay down the law to groups of young people at Lennox Head on Monday.
Police lay down the law to groups of young people at Lennox Head on Monday. Jacklyn Wagner

Shameful Australia Day violence

THE Lennox Head community is still reeling from an Australia Day alcohol-fuelled brawl that led to the arrests of more than 10 people, most of them teenagers.

Locals yesterday spoke of their shame at the violence and excessive drinking that sent a day of celebration at Lake Ainsworth involving up to 500 revellers spiralling into chaos.

“It’s an embarrassment to Lennox Head, let alone Australia,” Ocean View Cafe worker and Lennox local Barbara Oxland said.

Cafe owner Sue Bathgate, who has lived in the area for 25 years and has two children aged 18 and 13, said one drunk child had vomited in front of customers.

“Last year there were incidents, but it just seems to have escalated this year,” she said. “They started (drinking at) 10.30 to 11.30 in the morning. The girls were throwing up by 1.30 in the afternoon.

“We all like to have a drink, but they were just over there drinking to get smashed.

“I’m ashamed of the kids in Lennox.”

Ms Oxland, who has a 10-year-old child, said alcohol marketing was partly to blame for Monday’s events.

“Alcohol is just way tooeasy for these kids to get. It’s marketed as a fun drink instead of a serious, addictive substance,” she said.

Police were not prepared for the Lake Ainsworth gathering – or the subsequent brawl – and were forced to send in 12 police officers,many of whom had been called back to work after ending their day shift.

Operational Support Group officers were also sent to the area to control the crowd at a cost of about $3000, in addition to overtime paid to off-duty officers, Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Nicole Bruce said.

“It did cost a considerable amount to the community because we didn’t anticipate it,” she said.

While police are still evaluating all arrests and charges associated with the melee, Insp Bruce said more than 10 people were arrested on the day for various offences, including assault, offensive behaviour, and disobeying a direction to move on.

“Predominantly, they were juveniles,” she said.
Insp Bruce said that most were taken home to theirparents. “They were mainly local youths,” she said.

She would not comment on calls from some Lennox residents for a permanent police presence in the town.

Central Lennox Head,including parts of Lake Ainsworth, will become alcohol-free zones in the next few weeks when Ballina Shire Council erects signs designating the areas.

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