Students pleased with plans for safety education program in Brisbane

The postgraduate students community at Griffith University is pleased that Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has promised to set aside $10.9 million for a safety education program following the murder of French student Sophie Collombet near the William Jolly Bridge on March 28.

The announcement was made Wednesday as part of the 2014-15 council budget.

Griffith University Postgraduate Students Association (GUPSA) President Niels Kraaier said the announcement was the best sign so far that Brisbane was serious about the safety of its residents and visitors.

“We still have to look at the details but this is definitely good news,” Mr Kraaier said.
Ms Collombet was an active member of the postgraduate students community at Griffith University, frequently attending social events and excursions.

In the wake of her murder, Mr Kraaier strongly advocated for a safety education program to prepare newly arrived students for the challenges of living in a world city.

“We owe it to Sophie to ensure that Brisbane is a city that is not only safe in the brochures, but safe in reality as well,” he said at a memorial for Ms Collombet.

Mr Kraaier said $10.9 million was “a significant amount of money”.
“It should be sufficient to develop a safety education program that is well-targeted and ultimately very effective,” Mr Kraaier said.

However, Mr Kraaier said a safety education program did not relieve the authorities from the responsibility to deal with the underlying cause of violence.

He also said it was important to make ongoing investments in physical safety measures such as proper street lighting and smart urban design.

“It would be an understatement to say that there’s definitely room for improvement in this respect,” Mr Kraaier said.

Last month, Queensland Police Service and Brisbane City Council launched three advertisements to be screened at the Hoyts Cinema Complex in Sunnybank, with the clips encouraging students to be aware of their outdoor surroundings.

Mr Kraaier applauded police and council for their initiative, saying that if the target audience received this campaign well it should be rolled out throughout Brisbane.

“There’s no reason to scaremonger but we have to be realistic,” Mr Kraaier said.

“Brisbane is a big city and that comes with certain risks,” he said.

“As a community, we have to make a continuous effort to minimise these risks.”

“Meanwhile, it’s important that students know what they can expect.”

“Honesty is the best PR you can get.”

Click here to download the original media release.