By international standards Sydney is safe. A report by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research on five-year crime trends shows reductions in nearly all major crime types in the City of Sydney.
High-profile incidents such the tragic death of 18-year old Thomas Kelly after a violent, unprovoked assault in July 2012 and more recent unprovoked attacks on George Street show that more needs to be done to improve safety on our streets at night.
While these violent crimes increase community concern, their greatest impact is on the family and friends of the victims. Young people who visit our city at night should be able to enjoy a night out and return home safe to their family at the end of the night.
On 20 June 2013 I met Thomas' father, Ralph Kelly, and was moved by his determination to take practical steps to reduce alcohol-related violence and the risks it presents to young people.
This has resulted in the Kelly family establishing the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation as a legacy to their son.
The Foundation is currently developing a package of programs to improve safety on the streets at night that will be known as 'TK' - Take Kare. Ralph explained to me that 'TK' was also Thomas's nickname among his friends.
The Foundation will be officially launched on 18 September 2013 with a fundraising event at The Star. Tickets for tables of eight or 10 are available to purchase and all proceeds will go to the Foundation.
I welcome Foundation's proposal to fundraise for 10 additional CCTV cameras to be added to our Street Safety Camera Program in locations identified by NSW Police.
We are also working with the Foundation on options to provide a Safe Space and outreach program in our late-night trading precincts to provide support for intoxicated young people who may be at risk of crime - either as a victim or offender.
This work will complement the action the City is already taking to implement OPEN Sydney, our
long-term strategy to improve Sydney at night.
On 12 November 2012, and in addition to $2.2 million in existing budgets, Council approved an additional $292,000 to fund new measures for Kings Cross. This work includes:
â€¢ extra late-night bus services running every eight minutes on weekends;
â€¢ safety improvements to the Bayswater Road taxi rank;
â€¢ six new CCTV cameras with a direct feed to Kings Cross police station;
â€¢ precinct Ambassadors and a new tourist information kiosk;
â€¢ support of a renewed Kings Cross Festival; and
â€¢ creation of a compliance "hot" team based in Kings Cross.
Whilst much remains to be improved in Kings Cross, since July last year much progress has been made by state and local government working together. Actions taken so far include:
â€¢ strengthening police powers so that they can crack down on violence and anti-social behaviour in licensed venues and on the streets of Kings Cross;
â€¢ new legislation applied to 131 licensed premises and an extension of the liquor freeze until 2015, and;
â€¢ improving late-night transport to get people home at the end of the night.
This type of reform is essential to underpin long term improvements in Kings Cross.