Safe as houses

By NADINE FISHER

WHEN it comes to Safety Houses, the Tweed is setting the pace.

Across NSW, the sad fact is that numbers of Safety Houses are declining, but not on the Tweed.

Safety House is a police and community scheme which provides places of safety for children who may be lost, scared or in danger. Safety Houses are identified by the yellow safety house plaque displayed at the front of the house.

Tweed District Safety House co-ordinator Max Kirkham said given recent events in the region with a West Australian convicted paedophile at Banora Point, it was vital that the program continue to provide safe places for children.

"It's a very important scheme because kids do get lost, hurt and are chased," Mr Kirkham said.

"Luckily in the Tweed we've only had a Safety House used twice in the past four years, and that was for two cases of kids who were lost."

Mr Kirkham, who has been running the Safety House program in the Tweed and Coolangatta areas for four years, said to maintain the scheme they needed funding through donations and more businesses and houses to register as 'safe houses'.

"Now more than ever, it's important that kids are aware of the program and we continue to grow in numbers.

"In the Tweed district we currently have 200 Safety Houses and businesses and we'd like that to increase by another 200."

Mr Kirkham, a volunteer in policing, said the program received no State or federal funding, relying purely on donations and volunteers.

"It costs $6500 a year to maintain the scheme. I visit schools and kindergartens who are part of the scheme to talk to kids about safety.

"And we're very lucky that it is such a prominent Safety House community and theoretically haven't had any major concerns to date."



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