WARRNAMBOOL police will target anti-social behaviour on Australia Day in a bid to stamp out drunken brawls which have marred previous celebrations.
Acting Inspector Steve Thompson said revellers could expect a strong police presence with additional members rostered on for tomorrow.
“It’s a day that in the past has caused some concern for police and some community concern,” Acting Inspector Thompson said.
“We will be enforcing alcohol restrictions and on alert for anti-social behaviour.
“By all means we’re encouraging people to enjoy the day but certainly not at the detriment of others.
“Certainly there are still a lot of families holidaying around Lake Pertobe and we would encourage people to be respectful of those families.”
Last year at least five locals were arrested for drunken behaviour at night after boosted police numbers had kept revellers in check throughout the day.
At the time, witnesses said the behaviour was reminiscent of Australia Day in 2011, when piles of rubbish and broken glass were left at Lake Pertobe’s picnic and playground areas and a Warrnambool policewoman was struck by a bottle in a drunken melee.
Statewide last year there were 109 assaults reported to police on Australia Day and 122 reported on the same day in 2011.
On average, 115 assaults have been reported to police on Australia Day over the last five years, compared with an average of 70 reports on a typical day over the same period.
Warm weather, over-indulgence in alcohol and illicit drug use are the main drivers behind the reckless behaviour, as well as people coming together in groups for community celebrations.
Men aged between 18 and 24 account for a significant proportion of the offending, with assaults generally carried out in groups later in the day, after 5pm.
Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said the figures were an alarming revelation for a day that was supposed to be one of the proudest in the nation’s history.
“We know people will have a few drinks in celebration of the day, but it’s important to understand that one drink too many could lead to serious consequences,” he said.
“The message is simple — have a good time, but don’t let your fun get out of control.”
Police are also reminding licensed venues of their responsibilities when it comes to serving alcohol.