17 November 2023

Wagga community invited to engage with first responders at safety day

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Inspector Jillian Gibson and Alex Osgood

Riverina Police District Inspector Jillian Gibson and Wagga Wagga City Council Community Development Coordinator Alex Osgood. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Families and residents of Wagga are invited to a community safety day at Riverside Park Precinct to meet local first responders.

Wagga Wagga City Council and Riverina Police District are hosting the second Family Community Safety Day at Riverside Playground near Wagga Beach on 9 December from 10 am to noon.

The initiative stemmed from the council’s 2022 Community Safety Action Plan.

Council’s Community Development Coordinator Alex Osgood said the council was helping facilitate an opportunity for the community to meet their first responders and chat in a safe space.

“The first event was well received, and we’ve decided to have another one,” said Ms Osgood.

“We will have representatives from the police, fire, local emergency volunteer groups and Wagga Agile Library Service. Santa will appear directly from the North Pole.

“The purpose of these events is to work with local police to engage with the community regularly about any community safety concerns.

“It is also an opportunity for the community to engage with their local first responders in more positive settings instead of a crisis.”

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Riverina Police District Youth and Engagement Officer Inspector Jillian Gibson said the first event was a great success.

“We had people turning up before it even started,” said Inspector Gibson. “Seeing the strollers pop out the back of the cars and the kids wandering was amazing.

“It was an all-age event. Parents got as much out of it [as the kids]. Our senior citizens loved it as well.”

Inspector Gibson said the day was a positive experience for the emergency services.

“As emergency services, we all attend jobs when something bad has happened, and that’s when we see each other.

“That’s when the New South Wales Police, Ambulance, Fire Brigade, VRA and SES turn up, and those incidents are usually hard.

“So having a day where we got together interacting with the community and there was a trophy up for grabs, it was terrific. There’s some really friendly rivalry going on, and I think everyone’s out to win the trophy back from the VRA.”

Insp Gibson said the Department of Transport would also attend and had encouraged families with L-plate and P-plate drivers to bring them to the event.

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Insp Gibson’s message to those who are afraid or have reservations about police and first responders is that they are also people.

“I would encourage them to come down and see us as people. Hop into a police car and have some fun,” she said.

“We are just people and want to assist in our community.”

The Family Community Safety Day aligns with the council’s Community Safety Action Plan 2022- 2026 (CSAP), which outlines the strategies and actions to increase safety, reduce crime where possible, and work towards building a safe and vibrant city for the future.

The plan was informed by extensive engagement with community members from diverse backgrounds to ensure it reflects the many voices that make up the local community.

The top five topics of community concerns identified through this engagement were home break-ins, domestic and family violence, arson, the sale and use of illegal drugs, and alcohol-related assault.

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