NEIGHBOURS of a home in Warrnambool for troubled youth say they are living in fear of their safety and have demanded management either clamp down on clients or close the doors.
About a dozen neighbourhood residents vented their frustration at a meeting this week with police, the Department of Human Services, MacKillop Family Services and city council election candidates.
They told of attempted car thefts, property damage and frequent obscenities yelled at adults and children by some of the occupants of the home set in a residential area near a child-care centre.
“We’re in lockdown mode,” a neighbour told The Standard.
“All we want to do is live in peace.”
For the past month, four young people under the supervision of three carers have been living at the house, managed by MacKillop Family Services for the department.
Agency representatives told the meeting they would look at strategies to fix the situation and report back in two weeks.
Local MP Denis Napthine, who in 2004 and 2009 called for urgent government action to clamp down or close the house, said yesterday there were now other facilities outside Warrnambool that could be used for troublemakers.
“I’d urge MacKillop Family Services to look at using all the options on how to manage and allocate clients without disrupting the neighbourhood,” he said.
“Clearly providing accommodation for young people at risk is always challenging, but it’s important that these facilities are good neighbours.
“I welcome this round table discussion as an important step forward.” MacKillop Family Services said yesterday that it aimed to be a good citizen in communities in which it worked.
“Residential care is a valuable alternative for young people who are unable to live at home or in foster care,” community relations director Grant Thomas said.
“We take very seriously any concerns from the community and do our best to provide a therapeutic and healing environment for young people in our care.”
The department said it was happy to meet with residents and would work with both parties to address concerns while considering what was in the best interests of the young people.
Inspector Kevin Archer, from Warrnambool police station, said he presented crime statistics on assaults and damage across Warrnambool that showed the street in question was no worse than other sections.
City councillors Jennifer Lowe and Peter Hulin and another council election candidate Brian Kelson, who attended at the invitation of residents, said they were amazed by the revelations of damage and harassment.
“I understand these kids need help, but they (seem to) have licence to do what they want, when they want without fear of retribution,” Mr Kelson said.
Cr Hulin said it was a case of young people who were unfortunate victims of circumstances now making families the victims of fear.
Cr Lowe said there was a clear problem that needed to be addressed immediately.