Hindley Street Program
Hindley Street is a popular celebration area in the city of Adelaide, consisting of numerous bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues, many of which hold 24-hour liquor licenses. These venues when at maximum capacity can hold approximately 50,000 people and this number does not include people on the street present in the area.
As evident by the consistent media coverage, there is a concerning number of alcohol-related problems which impact on public safety in Hindley Street. Young people are particularly at risk of harm due to their inexperience and harmful drinking practices.
Government reports indicate that:
- Offences in the West End of the CBD are more likely to be alcohol related than in other parts of the city, with primary victims and perpetrators 18 – 24 year old males.
- Ambulance callouts and presentations to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for alcohol-related issues peak in the early hours of Sunday morning.
- If young people are removed from a venue for intoxication or not allowed in, they congregate in the precinct, causing congestion on footpaths, laneways and on the street, leading to an increased likelihood of alcohol-fuelled violence and injury.
Due to the large number of incidents and the numbers of young people in the West End on a Saturday night, South Australia Police are unable to meet demand for engagement and prevention work in these peak times. This indicated that extra services were required to address the needs of vulnerable young people in the CBD.
Encounter Youth received an invitation from SA Police in 2009 to provide direct relief to vulnerable young people in this challenging social environment. After conducting extensive assessment of the situation, Encounter Youth launched our intervention program in August 2011.
The Hindley Street Program
Every Saturday night the Encounter Youth Green Team volunteers offer a hands on service to the community that directly relieves the harms associated with challenging social environments facing young people. Green Team volunteers provide a safe presence, referral service and basic first aid to patrons, as well as always being available for an encouraging chat. We also seek to influence a decrease in binge drinking among young people through our positive engagement strategies.
During this time we have made a real and tangible impact, not only in the lives of the patrons we meet and serve, but in the relationships we’re building in the West End; with other community services, owners, bouncers, licensees, SA Police, Adelaide City Council, the SA Attorney-General’s Department and more.
Consistent with our holistic approach of working in complex social environments, we lead a Hindley Street Program Key Stakeholders Group. Each month we meet with representatives from the SA Attorney-General’s Department, SA Police and Adelaide City Council. We share details of our Saturday night observations and critical incident referral statistics. We encourage and foster an environment of transparency and collaboration, where each stakeholder is able to share their main challenges, opportunities, and objectives. This is done so that all key stakeholders can be at the forefront of improving late night safety in direct support of young people and the community.
To date this program has seen:
- Countless positive interactions between our Green Team volunteers and young people encouraging them to drink a little less, and look after themselves and their mates.
- Volunteers responding to many critical incidents where young people require further emergency service assistance or referral to community services.
- Volunteers supporting young people in vulnerable situations due to excessive alcohol consumption thus preventing further harm from occurring.
- The positive rapport of our volunteers actively encouraging and supporting young people to head home after excessive alcohol consumption.
- A higher presence of responsible people and observers on the street, which brings a greater surveillance and increased safety.
- Assistance to SA Police in the provision of support and supervision to young people that have been instructed to go home.
The Hindley Street Program is currently funded by the South Australian Government through the Attorney-General’s Department and SA Police.
In December 2013, as an outcome of the inaugural Citizens’ Jury, Encounter Youth were awarded a grant, receiving recognition from the South Australian Government of the value and importance of this program, and the desire to see it develop and grow. This funding will conclude in May 2017.