Safety in Stirling: Is it a safe bet?


Mirrabooka Regional Centre now with federally funded surveillance

Safe homes in safe environments will hold just as much voting power as secure jobs and better pay packets in the polling booths of the not-so-safe seat of Stirling.

Candidates of both major parties agree that safety and security will be election issues along with employment and wage growth, in the Liberal-held seat.

Liberal candidate Vince Connelly said safety was a concern for many residents in the area, with his Labor counterpart Melita Markey also giving the issue great importance.

Much will depend on how much emphasis voters place on the Federal Government’s Safer Streets program when they go to the polls on May 18.

Put in place by Mr Connelly’s predecessor, retiring minister Michael Keenan, the program has been putting federal funds into a series of safety and security projects since 2014. It watches over residents in the local government area the City of Stirling, which mostly matches but is slightly larger than its namesake federal electorate.

The Safer Streets program was designed to make the community a safer place with closed circuit televisions installed in locations including the Mirrabooka Regional Centre, Richard Gwelfi club rooms in Balcatta, Clarko Reserve and Carine Regional Open space.

CCTV watching over Mirrabooka

The latest was the Bluewatch Project in Tuart Hill’s business precinct, a CCTV network designed to give smart devices access to live-streaming from the cameras and provide WA Police with high-quality footage of crimes and traffic incidents.

Superintendent of Community Engagement, Inspector Don Emanuel-Smith, said CCTVs in hot spots had greatly assisted in gathering critical evidence for successful prosecutions, making it easier for police to monitor any trouble and assist in identifying and apprehending offenders.

Another program, to be implemented later in the year, was the Safer Communities Fund which aimed to increase security at schools, local groups and the Stirling community in general while protecting children at risk of attack, harassment and violence caused by racial or religious intolerance.

To complement these projects, the City of Stirling also has a team of security patrol officers clocking up 360,000 kilometres a year monitoring the entire region 24 hours a day every day.

“It is a right for residents to feel safe in their community and the Safer Streets project delivers just that,” Mr Connelly said.

Having lived in Stirling for a large part of his life, Mr Connelly said his real-life engagement with the community had given him an understanding how concerning security was for the Stirling residents. When it comes to polling day, the choice was a clear one, he added.

“The people of Stirling can re-elect a Morrison Government committed to safety, as evident by the success of the Safer Streets program, or they can choose a Labor Government who will cut the police budget by $250 million and weaken Stirling’s safety,” he said.

Ms Markey said there were still many security challenges facing the electorate, a big one being petty crime.

She said people in the community continued to be concerned about home and car break-ins and she put this down to the high youth unemployment.

She said a Labor Federal Government would eliminate the pathway to youth crime by spending $330 million Australia-wide for apprenticeship subsidies in areas of skill shortage.

“We must take people with us, not leave them behind, and through training we can achieve this,” she said.

Big on building capacity and community engagement, Ms Markey said Labor also had plans to aid the youth at risk with facilities for boys and girls football in Nollamara and netball in Balga.

Greens candidate Judith Cullity said the Stirling electorate could be made safer by decriminalising drug taking and treating it like a medical issue.

She used the example of a heroin-addicts register in England where users signed up and got their drugs above the counter, together with professional help from trained counsellors to beat their addictions.

Ms Cullity said the vast majority of petty crime was due to drugs, with addicts desperate for their next fix. By legalising and taking the black market out of the trade, there would be less of those petty crimes, she said.

With all candidates talking about it, safety is clearly an issue in Stirling. The Liberal Party’s 6.1% lead is believed to be within the opposition’s reach, but we will have to wait until May 18 to find out if the government done enough to make Stirling a safe Liberal seat once again.