Participants in a lively discussion at the Byron Bay forum.
Participants in a lively discussion at the Byron Bay forum. Sue Gardiner

Byron residents gather to brainstorm alcohol violence fix

ERECTING signs warning of brown snakes to scare off illegal campers and a New Year's Day party and beach clean-up are among the dozens of ideas to emerge from a group brainstorming session at Byron Bay today.

The session was the latest in a series of community meetings sparked by widespread anger among residents about the damage perpetrated by tourists over the Christmas/New Year period and the ongoing issue of alcohol-related violence.  

This meeting which attracted 50 participants was conducted in "world cafe" style.

Participants broke up into small groups at one of eight tables where one of eight dilemmas facing Byron was discussed for 30 minutes before they moved onto another table.

The next group would then take the ideas from the previous group and discuss them, build on them or disagree. 

The questions included: How do we make our streets vibrant and safe at night; how does Byron manage Schoolies and New Year's eve to everyone's benefit and how do we care for our natural environment.

At the conclusion of the two-hour session, world cafe facilitator Robert Webber said: "I've heard some fantastic ideas; things I've never heard of and I've seen people build on those ideas."

Another 50 people have registered to participate in the second session tonight at 6pm.

The ideas to emerge from both sessions will be brought before the fourth group community meeting on Thursday, March 21 at the Byron Bay Community Centre.

Byron Shire Councillor Paul Spooner, who helped organise the event, said it sounded like residents were seeing themselves as part of the solution to Byron's various social issues.

"People are starting to say 'what we can do' which is a nice shift," Cr Spooner said.



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