ON THE BEAT: Street Chaplaincy volunteers Pastor James Hewitt and Sue Hawkins.
ON THE BEAT: Street Chaplaincy volunteers Pastor James Hewitt and Sue Hawkins. Christopher Chan

Street team helps clean up CBD party precinct

GLADSTONE revellers are feeling safer and police can get back to the job thanks to a new program aimed at reducing alcohol-fuelled violence in the CBD.

The street chaplaincy program is part of a collective effort to clean up the streets, after a dramatic spike in public nuisance offences.

Program facilitator Pastor James Hewitt said last Saturday had been busier than ever.

"We handed out over 100 bottles of water and bandaged some knees where girls had fallen over in high heels," Pastor Hewitt said.

"One young lady had passed out and we were able to help find her friends and make sure she got home."

With law enforcement services stretched, the extra presence has already been appreciated by police.

Community Crime Prevention Officer Senior Constable Dave Lemalu said the service had freed up police to do their primary function.

"It lets police do their job," he said. "They provide a care function that isn't a police one."

Senior Constable Lemalu said police had received lots of positive feedback about the street program.

"Police can't spend the night talking to people," he said. "The chaplains can sit with people, and stand with vulnerable females while they wait for their friends."

Pastor Hewitt said the level of intoxication witnessed was not surprising.

"Everybody's had some (alcohol)," he said. "A good majority aren't doing so well. Five to 10% don't even know how to get home."

Street chaplains add a sense of safety

STREET Chaplaincy volunteer Ron Hawkins was not alarmed by what he saw in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mr Hawkins was one of eight volunteers out helping city-goers last weekend. He said the experience had been enjoyable.

"I thought people really appreciated it," he said. "The ones that needed a bit of extra support were very thankful."

As a business owner in town, Mr Hawkins knew a number of young people who were out on the town.

"As a community member, I like to see people having fun," he said. "But I don't want to see them injured as a result of being intoxicated.

"I think the young people appreciated it. It's added a sense of security."

Mr Hawkins said the sleepless night was well worth it.

"This is something we can do to help our community," he said. "It's also an opportunity to engage with young people."

Street Chaplaincy Program:

  • A joint initiative of Gladstone Police and local church groups.
  • Volunteers provide city-goers with water, a listening ear and a place to sober up in the CBD precinct on Saturday nights.
  • The program has been successful in Brisbane and Townsville.

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