Opinion

Our safe status must be promoted, maintained

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

There are many advantages of living in a rural community, but near the top of the list must be the safety aspect.

Latest crime figures show Deniliquin remains one of the safest places to live in New South Wales, which is something we should celebrate.

It is also a strong selling point for our community, especially when trying to attract people from cities and larger regional centres.

The crime escalation continues to be a huge problem for our nearest capital city, Melbourne, and the inability to keep it under control must lead some of its residents to question whether it is the place they want to live.

Nearby regional centres such as Shepparton also have their crime issues, with authorities struggling to keep it under control.

Deniliquin is a logical alternative for anyone considering a ‘tree change’ to a safer community.

Thirteen years ago this was heavily promoted and generated national media coverage. Perhaps it is time to revisit the advantages of living in a safe community as part of a broader liveability campaign.

There is no doubt the nature of Deniliquin’s economy and prosperity are going to continually change as we are forced to develop less reliance on being a service centre for surrounding agriculture.

As part of this change we are improving various services, especially for the young and old with developments at Navorina, the Children’s Centre and the proposed retirement village.

With the last two of these, living in a safe community is an important component — it can help us attract more families who will use the Children’s Centre, and is crucial for coaxing retirees.

We still believe it is disappointing the NSW Government downgraded our police service just months after opening the new $18 million police station. At the time the government promised no reduction in police numbers and unlike many political promises we have seen this one needs to be kept.

If we are to retain our standing as a safe community it is imperative we continue to have the police force which is necessary to discourage crime.

There remains a serious risk that the NSW Government will do what it has done to many of its departments in regional areas — downgrade and rationalise so more money is available for large regional centres and capital cities.

To retain our status as one of the safest places to live, this cannot be allowed to happen.

And while the statistics show that we are among the safest, our leaders need to use this influential fact to help highlight the benefits of living in a safe and friendly country town.