Highs and lows of Western Victoria crime
Western Victoria is one of the most geographically diverse parts of the state.
From the natural beauty of the Grampians and Otway Ranges, to the popular surf coast destinations of Lorne, Apollo Bay and Anglesea, to the major urban centres of Geelong (Victoria’s largest provincial city) and Ballarat, it is no surprise the various areas produce vastly different crime statistics.
High risk in some areas, low in others
The local government areas of Ballarat and Moorabool (which span postcodes such as Bacchus Marsh, Lal Lal and Meredith) are among the 10 riskiest in Victoria, and the five riskiest in regional Victoria, with one in 45 and one in 50 houses burgled, respectively. The state average is one in 67.
Local government areas of Ararat (one in 89 homes burgled), Golden Plains (one in 92), Central Goldfields (one in 95), Surf Coast (one in 106), Glenelg (one in 110), Loddon (one in 153) and Buloke (one in 166) are all safer than the state average.
With just one in every 173 homes burgled, Southern Grampians is one of the safest local government areas in the state.
In the middle, Western Victoria has five local government areas considered riskier than average: Hepburn (one in 56 homes burgled), Greater Geelong (one in 57), Colac Otway (one in 69) and Horsham (one in 77).
Victoria’s largest police region
Jamie Templeton, Victoria Police’s Western Region community engagement and prevention inspector, says dealing with such a large and diverse part of Victoria means that different areas are affected by different crime issues.
“Western Region is geographically the largest policing region in Victoria, covering 60 per cent of the state,” he says.
“What we are seeing, across the state, is increases in high-volume crimes such as theft of, and from, motor vehicles.”
As with the variations in local government area data, individual postcode results fluctuate greatly.
The postcodes of 3220 (Geelong, South Geelong), 3342 (Ballan) and 3214 (Corio, Norlane) are among the top 10 riskiest postcodes in regional Victoria.
However St Arnaud, Ocean Grove, Anglesea and Queenscliff, to name a few, are all safer than average postcodes.
There are a number of initiatives aimed at improving community safety across the region.
G21 helps from Queenscliff to Colac
G21 is a formal alliance of government, business and community organisations to improve the lives of people living in Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Colac Otway and Queenscliff. One of the group’s priority initiatives is the Central Geelong Mall Project, which will improve the mall’s physical environment and provide CCTV monitoring and an increase in uniformed and plain-clothed police.
Ballarat gets safety upgrades
Ballarat Mayor Cr Des Hudson says the City of Ballarat is committed to improving community safety, and works across all portfolios and levels to achieve this. The council operates a Community Safety Advisory Committee, featuring representatives of Victoria Police, local traders and community organisations, to help identify and respond to local safety and crime issues.
"Public safety and crime reduction principles have been applied to the upgrading of several parks and open spaces in the municipality in recent years, with better lighting, public art and CCTV cameras installed,” Cr Hudson says.
"CCTV cameras are installed across the CBD at key public spaces [and] CitySafe Taxi Ranks in the CBD are monitored by CCTV cameras and feature lighting and safety rails."
Residents have role to play
Victoria Police’s Western Region Community Engagement and Prevention Inspector Jamie Templeton says that while councils can help, ultimately it is up to all residents to play their part in preventing themselves from becoming a victim of crime.
“There are a number of simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of theft,” he says.
These include keeping your car locked at all times, even when in the driveway, securing all valuables inside your home and cutting overhanging bushes back from your house to make it harder for burglars to hide.
Safer in the country myth
Aaron Flavell, general manager home services at RACV, says the statistics show the country is not necessarily safer than the city.
“There can be a perception that regional Victoria is safer than metropolitan Victoria and these crime statistics show that it simply isn’t true,” he says.
“As with any region, some parts produce higher crime rates and others produce lower rates. However crime is evident in every community across Victoria, and it’s up to every individual to make sure they do simple things to protect themselves.”
Aaron says that keeping doors and windows locked, even when you’re at home, ensuring rubbish bins and letterboxes are regularly emptied and keeping valuables out of sight of windows can make a big difference in whether a thief regards your property as a potential target or not.
Victoria Police’s Western Region community engagement and prevention inspector Jamie Templeton says if you realise you are a victim of crime, it is vital that you call 000 immediately.
Triple-zero operators will talk you through the next steps involved in reporting a crime.
“If you are a victim of a burglary, the police will provide you with advice on what they would like you to do. This may include not interfering with potential evidence.”
Story: Kathryn Kernohan
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