Citizens' Jury gives verdict on creating safer Sydney

In September 2013 the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation joined with the independent research organisation newDemocracy to help find innovative ways of solving late night violence.

They proposed establishing a Citizens' Jury to examine the options and give impartial advice to the City of Sydney and NSW Government. 43 participants - not affiliated with any political parties, lobbyists or interest groups - were selected to examine what could be done to ensure we have a vibrant and safe Sydney nightlife.

This week I meet with members of the Jury to hear the results of several months' hard work and receive their recommendations. The Jury members worked incredibly hard on this project, including visiting night time hotspots late on Saturday night and early on Sunday morning. They also met with staff at St Vincent's hospital, and spoke with NSW Police, staff from the City of Sydney and other experts.

The Jury has responded with 25 thoughtful recommendations. Eight of these recommendations fall within the City's direct responsibilities. The remaining 17 will require action by other levels of government, primarily the NSW Government.

Earlier this year, the Premier announced the introduction of a periodic risk-based licencing scheme. The Jury has proposed this include an annual risk-based licensing fee, with revenue used to pay for new initiatives to reduce violence.

The Jury saw a need to diversify Sydney's nightlife, improve late night transport and recognise education and the media have a role to play.

Work that the City is already doing through OPEN Sydney, our long term strategy for developing Sydney at night, will help provide this diversity. The Live Music and Performance Action Plan which Council unanimously adopted this week also aligns well with the Jury's recommendations. Council has also adopted a new Public Toilet Strategy, enabling us to address the Jury's recommendation that new public toilets be prioritised, particularly ones available at night.
Much of the focus around late night transport has been to help people leave the city, but the Jury points out that there is a need for additional transport options to get people home when these services reach their destinations.

Other recommendations are simple, sensible and practical. For example making water easily available so people can rehydrate can reduce the amount of alcohol people drink. The City will address this by installing more water refill stations and bubblers in the public domain.
The project was jointly funded by the City of Sydney and the NSW Government, and the Jury's report will be presented to Council and tabled in Parliament.

On behalf of the City, I thank the jurors and the newDemocracy Foundation, the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, and everyone who took part in this process.

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