Risks in teen rave parties



Following Wednesday's story about a dance party in the bush outside Bellingen at which teenagers claim police were heavy handed in their actions, journalist UTE SCHULENBERG spoke to police to hear their side of the story.

"NO WAY in the world" was Inspector Frank Cook's response. "I saw none of my staff intimidating anyone," he said.

"The police were very calm. It was some of the organisers who were the aggressors. In fact some other people there were telling them to settle down ? they were right in our faces.

Insp. Cook said that, while he understood the kids just wanted to party and had tried to find a place where they wouldn't disturb others, the fact was that money was changing hands, which made the party a commercial venture and therefore in need of a council development application (DA).

"There was no security, no proper first aid or real toilets ? people were using the bush," he said. We were responding to a complaint from the Commissioner of Forests NSW to an illegal activity on their land."

One parent who attended the party as an observer was Viv Carty.

"While it was great to see the kids finding ways to have a good time, they needed to be more aware of the risks involved when large numbers of young people congregate in an isolated spot," Ms Carty said.

"A shuttle bus would have been a good idea, to stop so much traffic on the road and also security of some sort, in case things had got out of hand."

Ms Carty can speak from experience. She received a phone call at 4am telling her that her daughter had been injured in a car accident coming home from the party.

Insp. Cook said a combined effort between all parties was needed to find a solution to the vexed question of where kids can party.

From the point of view of Bellingen Shire Council, if money changes hands then consent is required.

"We encourage people to ask for assistance when they start organising their event, so systems can be put in place in case of an emergency," a planning officer said.

The cost of a DA starts at $170 but $10 million insurance costs thousands of dollars and having a legal dance party is quickly out of reach for young people here.



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