Zero tolerance for anti-social behaviour on Australia Day

BALLARAT police have vowed to crack down on violence at Lake Wendouree this weekend, with new data revealing Australia Day is by far the worst day for assaults across the state.

Lake Wendouree has in the past been a violent place on the national day, although Ballarat Police  Inspector Bruce Thomas said trouble at the major event was decreasing each year.

Last year there were two assaults in Ballarat on Australia Day, one of which was on a male walking home from the lake.

In 2012, one out of three assaults for the day was reported at Lake Wendouree, while a brawl at View Point in 2011 saw three people charged with assaulting police.

Inspector Thomas said although police were not happy with any report of assaults, the celebrations around the lake continued to get safer each year.

Thousands of people are expected to flock to Lake Wendouree for a night of entertainment which concludes with a fireworks display at 9.30pm.

“We won’t stand for any anti-social behaviour, we have said that from the start,” Inspector Thomas said. 

“There’s been a number of isolated incidents in the past and we’re not going to stand for that.

“We want a good family atmosphere at the lake ... our message is for people to enjoy the fireworks and not to make a nuisance of themselves.”

Figures released by Victoria Police yesterday showed Ballarat had become one of the hot-spots for Australia Day assaults in Victoria.

The Ballarat Police Service Area had the fourth highest average amount of assaults reported to police in the state over a five-year period.

Only Melbourne, Mornington Pensinsula and Frankston were higher. Geelong, Bendigo, Warrnambool and Shepparton were all below Ballarat’s average.

Inspector Thomas said numbers in the past three years had all been below the five-year average, which showed trouble was on the decline.

He also said a number of family violence assaults has skewed the data.

“We’ve got a large police operation planned around the lake,” Inspector Thomas said.

“We want people to feel comfortable and safe in a family setting and we’ll do everything to make that happen.”

Lake Wendouree will be an alcohol-free zone from 3pm on Australia Day.

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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