Harry Briguglil, of Summerland Security, patrols the Goonellabah Youth Plaza until 8pm each day. The Lismore City Council was forced to employ security guards because of increased violence at the facility.
Harry Briguglil, of Summerland Security, patrols the Goonellabah Youth Plaza until 8pm each day. The Lismore City Council was forced to employ security guards because of increased violence at the facility. Jay Cronan

Violence taints youth plaza

JUST three weeks after Federal Minister Anthony Albanese flew to Lismore to open the long-awaited Goonellabah Youth Plaza, the Lismore City Council has been forced to employ a team of security guards after numerous fights and bashings.

Answering a question from Councillor Neil Marks about ‘a number of instances’ at the popular plaza at Tuesday night’s council meeting, staff confirmed security guards had been engaged to put an end to the violence.

Two youth workers from Community Connections are also now rostered to be on station at the plaza over the weekends and the site will be monitored by closed-circuit television cameras.

In one incident last week, three young males aged between 13 and 19 were arrested and charged by police with assault and affray and offensive language after police were called at 5pm on a Monday.

Some users of the Youth Plaza have also told The Northern Star of bullying and abuse by people claiming to be locals.

Lismore City Council’s community services co-ordinator, Annie McWilliam, yesterday confirmed there had been ‘a number’ of antisocial incidents at the youth plaza and that the council was working with police and other groups to combat it.

While she would not reveal the cost of the increased security measures, Ms McWilliam confirmed two CCTV cameras would be redirected to the troubled area and a third would be installed.

“Council has taken advice from both the police and other local government areas which have created similar facilities in public spaces,” Ms McWilliam said.

“This advice confirms that during the initial phases of community engagement with a new venue management challenges will often arise.

“The NSW Police Service, Community Connections, the Department of Education, the indigenous community and council are working together to manage activities at the new Goonellabah Youth Plaza.”

The Federally-funded plaza next to the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre, which cost $684,000 to build, was opened amid much fanfare about two weeks ago.

As well as a skate park, the Goonellabah Youth Plaza has its own half-sized basketball court and stage.

HAVE YOU USED FACILITIES AT THE YOUTH PLAZA?

Phone 6624 3266 or SMS 0428 264 948



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