Neighbourhood Safety Initiative - Principles and priorities

There are a few simple and practical principles guiding this approach to creating safety:

1. Focus on the future, not the past.

Focus on making the future better, instead of trying to ‘fix’ the past.

The question to ask is not

‘Who is to blame?’

but rather

‘What made it possible for this to happen?’


 ‘What can be done so that this is less likely to happen again?’

2. Focus on opportunities.

  • How can we make a harm less likely to happen again?
  • What opportunities are there to encourage positive attitudes and engage in constructive action?

3. Think issue-based partnership (‘whole-of-society’).

Identify, mobilise and integrate whatever range of knowledge, capacity and resources is necessary for dealing effectively with any given issue.

4. Different problems and opportunities require different solutions.

  • Creating and managing safe and livable communities and public spaces requires a flexible and comprehensive ‘toolbox’.
  • Budgets to promote ‘security’ need to be flexible, so that they can be used to support those people, programmes or projects that actively contribute to safety – not only the obviously relevant state agencies.

Placemaking is therefore a way of

  • looking at a place,
  • thinking freshly about it, and
  • taking effective action in it,

in order to make it a safer and better place to be.

What do we mean by a safer and better place to be? We mean a place where people can live, work, play and grow – altogether, a liveable place.

Safety - and the sense of being safe - can be created.

Every 'place' (our street, the planet ...) has its own features and characteristics, its own opportunities for good things or bad things to happen.

In other words, there is always a 'pathway' that has led to a harm.

If we can identify that pathway, we can then devise a way of interrupting it so that the potential harm is less likely to happen. And even more than that, an opportunity for harm (a vacant lot used for dumping) may be turned into an opportunity for improving safety (making a simple park for recreation).

At the end of a placemaking workshop for a new Neighbourhood Watch in a country town, the members were asked if they could think of a simple action they could carry out at once that would make a difference. A young man and his friends announced that they were going to do a survey of all the streetlights in their neighbourhood and would send a list of the missing or ‘out’ lights to the relevant municipal department and would follow up to see that they were fixed.

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