Beach party crackdown


KIDS love them, residents who live nearby, fear them, but now a special squad of locals are working to clean up the darker side of beach parties.

Recognition of illicit drug use and alcohol abuse among Coffs Coast youth has finally come via a massive Federal Government grant of $270,150 to help combat the growing problem.

The money will go towards funding the 'Safe Party Squad', an initiative that involves the Ted Noffs Foundation and Senior Constable Sue Kady, aiming to prevent and reduce illicit drug use, and the associated harm among young people who party on the beaches on the Coffs Coast.

For the past year, Const. Kady has been involved in the 'Safe Party Squad', spending her Friday and Saturday nights out on the beat, giving support and supervision to young people who attend the beach parties.

According to Const. Kady, alcohol use is prevalent among young people attending the beach parties, and there has been an increase in young people in the area using illicit drugs.

"Illicit drug use is rising among young people. If you work on a Friday or Saturday night you see kids come in exhibiting signs of ice and ecstasy use," she said. Const. Kady said that the three hot spots were Jetty Beach, Emerald Beach, and Sandy Beach, with Friday night the main 'beach party' night.

She said illicit drugs were not commonly available at the beach parties, but violence and anti-social behaviour were problems associated with the parties.

"It's not the place where they would go and buy illicit drugs, raves are the big concern for that," Const Kady said.

"There have been incidences related to the beach parties of anti-social behaviour such as letterboxes being demolished, street signs taken down, broken glass, and loud noise. We have also had a couple of 'wanted' people ? peers of the kids ? causing trouble by assaulting the kids, but since we've been there, we have been able to help protect the kids.

"We normally have two youth workers and TAFE placement workers out on the job. We go out and talk to the kids, and we have condoms, water and first-aid kits on hand for them. They are responding really well, and give us a lot of respect by doing things like picking up glass bottles when we ask them."

The funding will be used to ensure the continuation of the program and to expand it to include drug and alcohol education such as peer education training, training for parents on how to help keep their kids safe, and first-aid training for young people on how to care for someone suffering from drug and alcohol overdose.

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