Day one of the Gunnedah Crime Prevention and Community Safety Conference featured almost a dozen presentations. The event was headlined by keynote speaker Grace Tame, an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Media were not permitted to cover this address.

Other presentations included a welcome to country by Gomeroi man and Gunnedah’s 2023 Citizen of the Year, Mitchum Neave.

A victim of crime himself, Mr Neave has “had enough” of the crime issues affecting the community which was “suffering” as a result.

He highlighted the issue of youth crime and said parents should be more responsible for the actions of their children.

“How come the parents are not held accountable? Everything starts at home,” Mr Neave said.

Gunnedah shire deputy mayor Rob Hooke commended the work of fellow councillor Colleen Fuller who he described as one of the main drivers behind the conference.

“It is through Colleen’s drive and determination that we are all here today,” he said.

“We thank you for your dedication, you really deserve it.”

Cr Hooke also detailed a “worrying trend” of crime across the state but especially in regional NSW.

“The statistics for rural areas compared to metropolitan areas is alarming,” he said.

“The trend in every category is up.”

He said police were up against it with reports of one officer for every 460 people in NSW.

Cr Hooke also said council’s crime concerns had fallen on deaf ears at the NSW government.

“It is alarming the government has refused to listen,” he said.

“We have to convince them to change their minds.

“Community safety takes a united effort from us all.”

Gunnedah shire councillor and crime prevention, community safety conference working group chair, Colleen Fuller, was excited by the impressive line-up of speakers at the conference.

She said the event would be particularly beneficial for strategies to address the younger cohort.

“This is what we’ve wanted for Gunnedah for years,” Cr Fuller said.

“I think a lot of programs will come out of this that we can add to our community. There’s more we can do with our youth.”

The long-time crime prevention advocate also hoped to see the conference held again in the future.

“Participants want to see more conferences,” she said.

“We will give it another go in a few years time and I think it will be bigger and better. I would like to bring it back [to Gunnedah] but I would like to share it too.”

Also speaking at the conference’s opening day were Violence, Abuse and Neglect Service representatives Rebecca Morrison and Ritchie Hair.

The pair spoke about why language was important when talking about family and domestic violence, especially in regional and rural areas where people were more likely to experience abuse.

“Language can be a powerful tool of resistance or a tool of domination,” Ms Morrison said.

She said public perceptions about domestic violence must change from asking “why doesn’t she keep her children safe?” to “why doesn’t he stop using violence?”

Also on day one was a presentation by Julie Campbell from the City of Logan LGA, and Senior Sergeant Darren Smith from Queensland Police.

They detailed their success with a multi-agency hooning taskforce in Queensland.

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