Big police presence at Lake Wendouree meant family-friendly event

POLICE arrived early and in force to Australia Day celebrations at Lake Wendouree on Saturday.

Acting Sergeant Daniel Grainger said sending strong police numbers to the event early and having a visible presence paid off, with Ballarat celebrating its most family-friendly Australia Day for years.

Sergeant Grainger said police arrested one person for theft and another for being drunk, while there were several infringements for underage drinking and open alcohol containers.

He said up to 15 extra police were on duty, providing them with their biggest numbers in the event’s history. 

“It was a bit more family-orientated than other years,” he said. “We were able to get into those spots we knew were trouble spots in the past. We’ve got in there early and were a little bit more proactive.”

The operation by Ballarat police was part of a statewide crackdown on anti-social behaviour on Australia Day, the worst public holiday nationwide for non-family violence-related assaults.

A 16-year-old girl was assaulted at last year’s Lake Wendouree community event, while drunken and anti-social behaviour has also marred previous Ballarat Australia Day celebrations.

Acting Sergeant Grainger said during Saturday’s public order operation police had specifically targeted locations around the Olympic Rings, the Adventure Playground and the area near the Lake View Hotel.

But he said with lots of family-orientated events on the day, the crowd in general was an exceptionally well-behaved one, 

“Given the (recent) beer festival and Australia Day, they are relatively large events and they’ve both gone relatively incident free,” he said.

“If we can continue to run events like we have in the past couple of weeks with the results we’ve had, it all bodes well for the future.”

Extra police were on patrol across the state, with known trouble areas targeted, including the Melbourne CBD and coastal and foreshore areas.

It’s all blue, red and white for Andrew Fletcher at the Australia Day celebrations at Lake Wendouree.

It’s all blue, red and white for Andrew Fletcher at the Australia Day celebrations at Lake Wendouree.