You are here: Home / Other Government Involvement in RW / City of Sydney / Alcohol Free Zones in Redfern Waterloo / Kristina Keneally's Submission on the AFZ

Kristina Keneally's Submission on the AFZ

This is the submision from Kristina Keneally MP for Heffron regarding the proposed AFZs in Redfern Waterloo.

Ms Clover Moore MP

Lord Mayor, City of Sydney

GPO Box 1591

Sydney   2001

13 April 2007

Ref: 0406_4164kk


Dear Ms Moore

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the City of Sydney’s proposed Alcohol Free Zones in South Sydney.

As you would be aware, the electorate of Heffron currently covers the proposed Alcohol Free Zones in the advertised Area 4:  Rosebery and Area 5:  Waterloo.

The Area 2: Elizabeth Street and Area 3: Regent & Cope Streets are within both the electorates of Heffron and Bligh, whilst the Area 1: Redfern Street and Area 6: Redfern East are wholly within Bligh.

However, following the redistribution of state electoral boundaries in 2007, all areas currently advertised will be within the electorate of Heffron.

I ardently support the introduction of Alcohol Free Zones, particularly in Redfern and Waterloo.

In addition, I strongly encourage the City of Sydney to examine other measures it might take to reduce the incidence and impact of street drinking – both for residents and the drinkers themselves – by implementing the Lord Mayor’s own recommendation that wet centres be created in inner city suburbs.

My submission to the proposed Alcohol Free Zones is based on the feedback I receive from the community in my role as the state member.  I regularly attend the Police and Community Team (PACT) meetings with the Redfern Local Area Command and I hold monthly meetings with the Waterloo office of the Department of Housing (DOH).  I also speak frequently with local residents through a variety of methods, including mobile offices, community forums and representations to my office.  Finally, I liaise with the Redfern Waterloo Authority’s Human Services staff and local community organisations.

In December 2005 I co-hosted a community safety forum with the DOH and the Redfern LAC to provide local residents, mainly the elderly and those of non-English speaking backgrounds, with information on proactive steps they can take to protect themselves.  One of the primary concerns that arose from that forum was the harassment these residents received from street drinkers and the fear that created in them as they sought to go about their daily lives shopping and visiting friends.

Also in 2005 I worked successfully with the DOH, the Redfern LAC, local businesses and local residents from the Peoples Precinct of Waterloo NAB and private housing to reduce the incidence of street drinking adjacent to the Duke of Wellington Hotel.

I know from this experience and from my other contacts in the local community that street drinking is a real and continuing problem for the residents of South Sydney because of the following impacts:

o       Obstruction of roadway and footpaths

o       Public drunkenness and disorderliness

o       Threatening behaviour

o       Urination and defecation in public areas

o       Litter and vandalism

This anti-social, and at times criminal, behaviour means that local residents cannot enjoy their tenancies and that they cannot make use of public resources such as footpaths, roads and parks.

From my work with local service providers like the DOH, the Redfern LAC, and the Redfern Waterloo Authority, I know that these organisations are also keen to have in place tools that will assist them in stopping the anti-social behaviour and criminal activity that often results around street drinking.

Finally, I have consistently received representations from residents in both public and private housing despairing of the impacts of street drinking.  Indeed, I believe it would be fair to say that local residents would not only support the introduction of the alcohol free zones, but also would ask why they had not been introduced earlier.

Other Measures the City of Sydney Might Investigate 

In 2003 the Lord Mayor, in her capacity as the Member for Bligh, and I worked together at the Alcohol Summit to support the introduction of Wet Centres as a way to address the problem of street drinking.

I strongly supported the Member for Bligh when she spoke at the Alcohol Summit in favour of Wet Centres:

A creative solution to this conflict for both the very marginalised street drinkers and inner city residents living at high densities can be seen in the United Kingdom where the Government’s Rough Sleepers Unit recommended "Wet Activity Centres" where chronic drinkers can go to safely drink, socialise, get help with accommodation, health/welfare, and to stop drinking.

Drinking is allowed on the premises, but the centres encourage alternative lifestyles to alcoholism and build up a support network to dissipate alienation and bolster clients’ self esteem. They are now operating in many major UK cities, with a national evaluation due in October.

Wet Centres provide a place where street drinkers and vulnerable people can go to feel safe without fear of reprisal from police or the public, and progress to get help – begin the process of addressing alcoholism which can lead to detoxification and re-integration into society. The Cities of Islington and Camden research found that most street drinkers welcomed a Wet Centre rather than drinking on the street.

Wet Centres reach people who do not use other services, and relieve the boredom for those who have little hope. Wet Centres target homeless or itinerant people who drink to intoxication in public, often in groups, and are "embedded" in this lifestyle.

The Lord Mayor also told the Alcohol Summit that “scarce police resources are wasted dealing with this health and social problem, moving-on intoxicated people, and removing their alcohol. Councils also have to respond with cleansing.”

The Lord Mayor has also pointed out that evidence from the UK suggests that communities support wet centres, as several wet centres reduces amenity impacts, lower incidences of injury and violence, and few problems with public liability concerns.

I spoke in support of the Lord Mayor’s motion and shared her disappointment when the Summit failed to endorse our proposal.

I believe that a society is only healthy when the most vulnerable are protected, supported and included.  The Alcohol Free Zones, particularly in Redfern and Waterloo, will serve to protect residents in some of NSW’s most disadvantaged postcodes from the negative impacts of street drinking.  But I also passionately believe that the Alcohol Free Zones are not sufficient and that our approach to street drinking must also try to assist the street drinkers themselves.

I strongly encourage the Lord Mayor to take leadership on this issue.  Since she spoke at the Alcohol Summit as the Member for Bligh in 2003 she has been elected Lord Mayor.  From this position she could be a strong advocate for wet centres; indeed, I cannot see why the Council could not implement a wet centre in its own municipal area.  As the Lord Mayor points out in her speech as the Member for Bligh, street drinking is a significant problem in the suburbs of Kings Cross, Woolloomooloo, Surry Hills and Redfern – areas she now serves as the Lord Mayor.

I am happy to discuss any aspects of this submission further.  I congratulate the City on taking this step, and I look forward to the introduction of Alcohol Free Zones in South Sydney.

Kind regards

Kristina Keneally MP