There has been a lot of talk recently about crime prevention and law and order in regional areas. In fact, last week I attended a conference on Crime Prevention/Law and Order where we heard from senior police, the NSW Police Minister, the NSW Opposition Leader, and leading criminologists discussing the issue.

I took a few things away from this, including:

The importance of supporting our local police. I have heard from several people around our towns expressing their happiness at the increased visibility of our front-line policemen and policewomen in Narrabri Shire. We must also work to make our new police officers welcome in our communities so that they will want to stay.

The responsibility that we all have for crime prevention in our areas. We need to report suspicious behaviour or crimes directly to 000, not Facebook or by phoning up the local police station. It is essential that records are made so that the right resources can be deployed to incidents.

The destructive nature of social media youth crime competitions. As has been widely covered, a small number of young people have been participating in games where they have been given a certain amount of “points” for recording themselves involved in the theft of motor vehicles, breaking into a home, joyriding in a stolen car, etc. This is shameful behaviour, and it is good that the government is attempting to stamp out this degenerate behaviour.

Youth boredom as a catalyst for crime. Once again, I praise our local police and youth organisations, including PCYC, NDCAS, our sporting clubs, the churches, and others for providing safe places for young people across our shire to participate in activities that stimulate their minds and keep themselves active.

How fortunate we are living in our Narrabri Shire area. Our relatively low crime rates are a standout in the northwest of NSW. We all need to remain vigilant.

On to a few other matters – on Tuesday, I chaired our March Council Meeting. It was a straightforward meeting with staff across council preparing for another tight budget for the 24/25 financial year. It is always challenging to keep budgets balanced in the face of rising input costs (e.g., road materials up by over 15 per cent), increasing salaries, and decreasing external revenues as Federal and State budgets tighten.

A standout for me also was an independent comparison of the performance by our shire planning team in the average number of days for applications to be determined was significantly lower than other local government areas in our region. Isn’t that good news!

Last Saturday night, I had the pleasure of speaking at the chartering of a new service club in Wee Waa. Twelve young people in Wee Waa have formed the Rotaract Club of Wee Waa, and the vision from incoming president Ethan Towns was truly inspiring. I look forward to seeing what great things this club can do in the local community and beyond.

As we head into this Easter break, please take care on the roads – remember that other travellers can be tired and cranky. Have a pleasant time with your family and friends over this Easter, and please don’t forget to support local businesses in our towns and villages for all your Easter goodies.

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