Bridges built with homeless
A BUNDABERG drug and alcohol outreach service has teamed up with crime prevention officers to run a six-week program designed to combat antisocial behaviour in Alexandra Park.
Bridges led the initiative with the help of police, after it was reported by local indigenous networks that people were using the park to drink alcohol and use drugs, as well as engaging in antisocial behaviour.
Bridges executive officer Sharon Sarah said the Building Bridges program, which wraps up tomorrow night, included an evening barbecue with music and sporting activities each Friday night.
"We started off a bit slowly, but we certainly found an increase over the weeks and were accessing new people," she said.
"We've seen a diverse range of people with issues ranging from mental illness, drug and alcohol, homelessness resulting in interventions and referral into treatment."
Ms Sarah said the goal of the project was not to simply feed the homeless, but to engage people and make them aware of the services Bridges offered.
"We've deliberately kept this project low key so as to protect the privacy of the individuals in the park and not sensationalise the issues at hand," she said.
"We were trying to engage people that really needed some support and help."
Ms Sarah said the group had also relayed information about their findings to the Drug Arm Street Outreach Service van, which quite often visits the park later on in the night.
"Sometimes the real problems are later on in the night - you can only resource something to a certain extent," she said.
She said the six weeks had been "very resource intensive", and the organisation would now go and review the program to determine if it will continue.
"We might consider doing it once a month," she said.
Bundaberg police crime prevention officer Senior Constable Janet Lindsay said the six weeks had been "unexpectedly quiet".
"We really thought there would be a lot more people around," she said.
But she said the regular Friday night events gave police an indication of what sorts of people were frequenting the park.