Gunnedah Shire Council has been presented with a glowing report from last year’s national crime conference, despite an overall financial loss from the event.

The 2023 Gunnedah Crime Prevention and Community Safety Conference was held at the town hall in November.

It aimed to “bring together” law enforcement, local government, grass roots service providers, policy makers, academics, researchers, government and non-government practitioners and regional leaders.

The event also sought to showcase the Gunnedah region and its economic potential to a national audience.

A recent report to council said while conference delivery cost $112,961, the revenue raised was only $83,787 which resulted in a net loss of $29,174.

As reported earlier, however, the direct and indirect economic benefits to the Gunnedah shire over the course of the event was calculated at about $300,000.

Gunnedah Shire’s Crime Prevention and Community Safety Working Group chair and councillor Colleen Fuller said the revenue target was impacted by a significant delay to the event, primarily due to COVID restrictions.

“We were well on track to meet the (revenue) target but when COVID hit, our funding was canned by

governments,” Cr Fuller said.

“That was sad because we know we would have had enough.”

The event eventually proceeded in November last year and feedback among the 112 delegates was described as “overwhelmingly positive”.

Delegates praised the conference set up, professional delivery, hospitality of council’s Crime Prevention Working Group and extensive opportunities for creating connections with other attendees.

“Delegates were encouraged to share experiences, exchange ideas, connect and identify avenues for cross-collaboration on projects and initiatives that would contribute to building strong, safe and connected communities,” the report said.

Twenty-four speakers were confirmed for the conference, with topics spanning cyber security, counter terrorism, rural crime, hate crime, alcohol and drugs, youth justice and justice reinvestment, crime and vulnerable communities, crime prevention through environmental design, emerging crime trends and social issues. This included keynote speakers such as former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, futurist Mark McCrindle, Hunter Johnson, founder of national mental health charity the Man Cave and Yasmin Catley, NSW Minister for Police and Counter-Terrorism.

The media however were denied permission to interview or photograph Ms Tame either before, during or after the conference. This direction was provided by Ms Tame’s media team.

According to the conference report to council, delegates and speakers were asked to complete a paper survey on their experience and feedback for the event, with a very high return rate (61 per cent of delegates) indicative of satisfaction with the conference.

Of those surveyed, 97 per cent rated the event as either excellent or very good and many indicated it “was the best conference they had been to”.

Gunnedah council also received positive written and verbal feedback by local businesses, accommodation providers, clubs, venues, caterers and other suppliers who benefitted from increased trade and traffic.

Some attendees also suggested that the event be held bi-annually and Cr Fuller agreed that was the preferred time frame for events.

“We would like to run another event in two years’ time,” she said.

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