Ballarat Building Safer Communities Forum – Ministerial Response

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Original constituency question from Juliana Addison MP to Parliament –

My constituency question is to the Minister for Crime Prevention.

Ballarat is a place to live, study, work, raise a family or retire. While our city is known to be a safe and welcoming place, sometimes crime can affect some of our residents.

I was pleased to see our youth crime prevention project, run by Berry Street, re-funded in the budget. Extending this project will continue Berry Street’s excellent progress in addressing the disconnection and trauma that can lead our more vulnerable young people into offending.

It was great to join the minister recently for an online forum with City of Ballarat, local service providers, community groups, students and police to discuss women’s safety across the city as part of the building safer communities program. This is a state government scheme which tackles the root causes of crime through innovative, community-based projects.

Minister, what is the latest information on the actions undertaken following the forum, and what are the future opportunities for the Ballarat council and local community groups to access funding to address the causes of crime in the area?

Response from the Hon Natalie Hutchins MP, Minister for Crime Prevention, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Youth Justice, Minister for Victim Support (6th Oct 2021) –

Thank you for your participation in the Ballarat Building Safer Communities forum – the engagement, feedback, and ideas from the community of Ballarat was really exciting to see.

I am pleased to report that since the forum, the Ballarat Community Safety Partnership has been established, comprising 17 member organisations. The Partnership has identified priority areas for action around Preventing Violence Against Women and Safer Streets and Public Spaces. Two working groups have been established under the Partnership:

  • Preventing Family Violence (led by Women’s Health Grampians, one of our partner organisations in delivering the forum), and
  • Enhancing Social Inclusion and Community Resilience (led by Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership).

Our government will continue to offer opportunities to Ballarat council and local community groups to design and deliver innovative crime prevention initiatives through the Building Safer Communities Program. This is a cornerstone of the Andrews Labor Government’s new Crime Prevention Strategy, which outlines how we will address the root causes of crime and is underpinned by more than $30 million of investment.

Following 19 grants being awarded through the Building Safer Communities Competitive Grants in 2020‐21, a second round of competitive grants will open on 15 November 2021 and close on 11 February 2022.

I encourage council and other interested organisations in Ballarat to consider applying.

The Building Safer Communities Program includes the Empowering Communities negotiated grants. These grants provide up to $700,000 to support community‐led partnerships to design and deliver locally‐tailored projects that address the drivers of crime in their areas.

The first three communities to be supported through these grants are Brimbank, Hume and Melton. Action Groups have been established in these areas to help develop and drive initiatives.

Further Empowering Communities locations will be selected following a targeted EOI process, which Ballarat Council was invited to participate in. Applications closed on 13 September 2021, and I expect to announce a further six Empowering Communities grants before the end of this year.

We know that the best way to support communities is to empower them to develop and deliver their own solutions. The establishment of the Ballarat Community Safety Partnership following the community forum, and the opportunities offered through the Building Safer Communities Program are great examples of what can be achieved when government works together with communities to tackle the issues that matter to them.