Garema Place – Heart of Darkness! Inconsiderate feeding of the poor to blame?

By 6 March, 2009 57

CityNews is running a public safety scare on Garema Place with an unusual culprit:

    Jude Cohen, owner of Bardelli’s Café, is right in the middle of the trouble.

    “There was someone stabbed in the face just the other week,” he says. “There is a core group of about 20 people who cause all the trouble, I think. I have spoken with the police about the possibility of the businesses here hiring a security guard.”

    Mr Cohen believes that the fact that charity organisations set up a few times a week, most notably on Friday evenings, in Garema Place, just metres away from his cafe is also a problem.

    “Don’t get me wrong, I respect the fact that these organisations are caring for the needy, but the giving away of free food in Garema Place simply attracts problems.

    What’s the cycle on these end-of-civilisation-in-Garema-Place stories? Every five years?

    Personally I’ve seen the place looking better over the years, but I’ve seen it worse, and emptier too. At the end of the day Civic’s focus has been shifted over to Bunda Street and that’s going to create an uncomfortable period of adjustment.

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57 Responses to Garema Place – Heart of Darkness! Inconsiderate feeding of the poor to blame?
#1
neanderthalsis1:10 pm, 06 Mar 09

I too blame the charities giving free food to the impoverished for the number of homeless people growing like a suppurating bubo in our fair city. If we gave them no food, they’d starve or go away and live a hunter gatherer existence up in the mountains…

It’s not often I wear the bleeding heart hat, but if basic services and shelter access was more readily available, increased access to drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, more effective and visible policing (including the power to move people on) then maybe we wouldn’t have this problem in public places.

#2
MsCheeky1:34 pm, 06 Mar 09

I work in the middle of Garema Place, so am out there every week day. It can get pretty unpleasant. As a for instance, I was sitting on a benchseat facing the chess pit today, and a guy was sitting on the next one a few metres away. For about half an hour, every minute or so, he hurled loud abuse – ‘farking seahunt’ being the most common. I don’t think it was to anyone in Garema Place, just to the person he was angry with in his head.

That’s a fairly typical example of what happens there. There’s a few regulars given to violent outburts that I make sure I don’t make eye contact with. I’m not easily offended, but today’s performance took the edge off enjoying sitting in the sun reading. I have some sympathy for the cafe owner.

But I’ve lived in Canberra for about 30 years and I don’t think its changed much. Maybe its a five-year cycle of business owners that brings out the issue with regularity? But no, it’s not Stasia, the free food lady’s fault that Garema Place is sometimes a bit unpleasant! It’s the mere fact that its the city centre that it attracts people – that’s what it’s meant to do. So you get a broad cross-section of the community.

#3
PBO1:40 pm, 06 Mar 09

I myself blame the lack of initiative by police in that area. I was a security guard at a nameless Govt dept located at Garema court and i would see crime and dealing all day long. I would see the same group of about 20 or so regulars every day doing the same things, from the man who walks around yelling, the sudanese drug dealers or the Lady who sells heroin from her pram who thinks that no one notices.

I have asked the Police in the past what they are doing about it and they said that if they do not see it they cannot act on heresay. I think that a couple of large civic minded individuals patrolling Garema is a great idea and business’s should get behind it.

And dont think that i have forgotten about the Emo’s.

#4
Thumper1:45 pm, 06 Mar 09

‘farking seahunt’

Those poor little sea kittens. How can one be so cruel as to hunt them?

#5
Granny1:50 pm, 06 Mar 09

‘Farking seahunt’ … lol … love it!!

#6
Die Lefty Scum1:52 pm, 06 Mar 09

That douche knew what Garema place was like when he opened his cafe. It’s no worse there than it’s ever been, so quitcha whingin.

#7
Skidbladnir2:23 pm, 06 Mar 09

Garema Place’s rather open and diverse drug trades have been going on for years, and isn’t any worse now than before the Canberra MegaCentre expansion.

While feeding the homeless\poverty stricken won’t diminish the problem, and some of them are spectacularly drug dependant, I don’t think its actually a cause of violence or encouraging the drug trade, just a focus for bringing them out of the shadows.

#8
jakez2:23 pm, 06 Mar 09

Garema Place is hardly the hellhole people make it out to be.

I guess CityNews didn’t have anyone to buy the front cover this week.

#9
Nosey2:26 pm, 06 Mar 09

PBO,

I wouldn’t blame the Police for the problems in town.

From reading the papers I think they are limited to what they can do as the Courts do not allow them to simply walk up to someone and empty their pockets looking for drugs.

It sounds like common sense and that’s how it should be, unfortunately there are alot of civil libertarians who would jump up and down if they got such powers.

#10
AngryHenry2:32 pm, 06 Mar 09

I don’t think it’s too bad once the junkies get their morning and afternoon fixes and go home to flake out. It sucks when they don;t make it home and flake out at your feet though. It’s a problem that has existed ever since I’ve been here, what suprises me is that most of the regulars I saw back then are still alive, I find that amazing.

If I had kids though I would be pretty reluctant to let them see that kind of behaviour.

Usually if you don’t get in their way or their business they are fine, unpleasant on the ears and the eyes but pretty ineffective.

I think because the Canberra Center now completely stands in between Garema Place and the Civic Flats, they seem to be more prominent but maybe that’s just because more people are traversing through that area. The public toilets in there I think are probably seen as a five-star shooting gallery.

It’s something that people have been asking for a long time but we definitely need more in the ways of mental health and support/rehabilitation for addicts. I think it’s very hard for someone who has never experienced the level of addiction these people do to understand.

As for the emos I don’t think they’re as much of a problem, and they’ll grow out of it.

#11
gingermick3:33 pm, 06 Mar 09

A good burst of street cleaning is long overdue.

#12
AngryHenry3:47 pm, 06 Mar 09

jakez said :

Garema Place is hardly the hellhole people make it out to be.

I guess CityNews didn’t have anyone to buy the front cover this week.

Great call! It’s hardly a reputable publication and more a local advertising vehicle.

As far as the soup kitchen goes, not all the peoople that go there are undesirables, as a poor unemployed person finding his feet I swallowed my pride a few times and grabbed a meal there. And there were others like me, none of us criminals or drug addicts.

Would you rather them steal even more things from your shops?

#13
jakez4:35 pm, 06 Mar 09

Nosey said :

PBO,

I wouldn’t blame the Police for the problems in town.

From reading the papers I think they are limited to what they can do as the Courts do not allow them to simply walk up to someone and empty their pockets looking for drugs.

It sounds like common sense and that’s how it should be, unfortunately there are alot of civil libertarians who would jump up and down if they got such powers.

And I would be one of them.

If we cannot walk down the street, harming nobody, without having our privacy invaded, then we live in a far worse society than any society dealing with the ooh scary ilicit drug boogey man.

I’m dealing with a person very close to me who is addicted to drugs right now, and your ideas still sicken me to the core.

#14
Granny4:52 pm, 06 Mar 09

I think it’s good for kids to witness people from all walks of life in the community.

It’s good for them to evaluate the life choices of others. That’s going to have far more impact when the time comes for them to decide whether they want to try a particular drug than parental lecturing or dry book learning ever can.

When society hands you one of those teachable moments, why not use it?

Personally, I want my kids to learn that all human life is valuable and should have dignity, that some people have problems that are destructive to themselves and to others, and how to cope with all that.

My daughter and I volunteered in a community kitchen for a couple of years before it became too difficult.

I am concerned that anyone would suggest that the activities of a soup kitchen should be curtailed.

#15
outnotdown5:12 pm, 06 Mar 09

Most of the time it is mildly entertaining. I occasionally go to Civic and often sit in Garema Place reading my paper, sunglasses on so as not to make eye contact. I pretend I can’t hear when hassled for $ or smokes. Just keep your bag(s) close.

#16
deye5:36 pm, 06 Mar 09

PBO said :

I have asked the Police in the past what they are doing about it and they said that if they do not see it they cannot act on heresay.

So much for the vaunted cameras in the area. I suppose there is the usually unmanned police shop front that they could watch from.

#17
DJ7:32 pm, 06 Mar 09

PBO said :

I myself blame the lack of initiative by police in that area. I was a security guard at a nameless Govt dept located at Garema court and i would see crime and dealing all day long. I would see the same group of about 20 or so regulars every day doing the same things, from the man who walks around yelling, the sudanese drug dealers or the Lady who sells heroin from her pram who thinks that no one notices.

I have asked the Police in the past what they are doing about it and they said that if they do not see it they cannot act on heresay. I think that a couple of large civic minded individuals patrolling Garema is a great idea and business’s should get behind it.

And dont think that i have forgotten about the Emo’s.

PBO, how good are you that you see all this crime and as a good citzen pass it on? You must be disheartened that nothing happens. Hang on, didn’t you get the memo from Police that your information was invaluable and as a result you saved the world! C’mon, seriously are you suggesting that civic minded individuals patrolling is the answer?

Former Chubb Guard with some issues? I think so.

#18
sepi8:33 pm, 06 Mar 09

A sad little story in the CT today, about a woman who died of an overdose at home with her boyfriend, after shooting up before work.

They had met years earlier in rehab – her for alcohol, him for heroin. So rehab didn’t do her any favours – instead of cleaning up her life, she hooked up with a junkie and became one herself.

It just made me think (again) that there should be more rehab options, rather than just one-size-fits-all, with the court ordered junkie maniacs, side by side with working people who have just lost their way a bit, with party drugs or alcohol, and want to sort themselves out before things get too bad.

There are no rehab options available to Canberrans until you hit absolute rock bottom, serious heroin addiction, and even then, without committing a crime and having a court order, it is very difficult to get a rehab spot.

I hate being accosted by junkies in civic. But I do think we should make it easier for them to at least try to give up their addictions.

#19
MWF10:19 pm, 06 Mar 09

sepi said :

There are no rehab options available to Canberrans until you hit absolute rock bottom, serious heroin addiction, and even then, without committing a crime and having a court order, it is very difficult to get a rehab spot.

I have helped people get into detox in the past. Usually takes about a 4-7 day wait until they get a bed. It’s easier to get young people into detox and rehab, Ted Knoffs are great, IME.

What I find incredible is that when a person tries to get themselves admitted to the psych ward at Canberra Hospital they are told: No. You are not crazy enough. The people in here would scare you more than your suicidal feelings do. And that was when the person was at crisis point.

#20
sepi10:27 pm, 06 Mar 09

I think 7 days is way too long to wait. And that is if they are persistent in calling, and lucky in getting a space.

Junkies don’t give up drugs easily, and it is hopeless when they actually are keen and motivated to go into rehab, and just get told to ring up in 3 days and see if there is a space coming up. And then if they miraculously are still keen, and remember to ring, they just get told to ring again in 3 days …and so on…

I gather mental health is hopeless in Canberra too, but I don’t have any personal experience of that one.

#21
YapYapYap10:57 pm, 06 Mar 09

Good to see the voices of reason entering this debate. To the rest; stay home, do the home/garden makeover, congratulate yourselves, and just sort out a good funeral deal.

#22
Granny12:00 am, 07 Mar 09

I’ve just got to say that every time I see the title of this story I burst out laughing. It’s perfect!

: D

#23
Special G8:07 am, 07 Mar 09

The soup kitchen is fine. Would you rather she sets up in one of the back alleys so this eyesore of Canberra is shifted out of view.

The only way things get changed is if they get jammed in the general publics face enough and then enough people get pissed off about it and start rallying their elected members. This is how democracy works people.

#24
vg9:21 am, 07 Mar 09

It’s only really an issue if you equate the City News with journalism

#25
Starscream10:16 am, 07 Mar 09

lock up or kill all junkies and drug dealers. loads of problems solved all at once then.

#26
Rabble11:15 am, 07 Mar 09

Agree with vg. His post would be one of the only times you’d see City News and journalism in the same sentence.

#27
farnarkler12:40 pm, 09 Mar 09

Starscream I agree completely. Addicts make a choice in the beginning to take the needle. Some, like a friend of mine, come out the other side and get clean. Others, like two friends of mine, end up overdosing and dead.

I lived near Brixton so I’ve seen more drug addicts and dealers than most of you will see in your lifetimes. Lock up the addicts but the dealers should be made to give up their suppliers so the big fish can caught and dealt with properly.

#28
canberraflybe1:41 pm, 09 Mar 09

Garema itself needs a facelift anyway. It’s doing itself no favours.

#29
Pommy bastard1:47 pm, 09 Mar 09

Starscream said :

lock up or kill all junkies and drug dealers. loads of problems solved all at once then.

At what point would you define someone as enough of a junkie to kill them?

Their first taste of amphetamine? Three smokes of heroin?

Why not start with alcoholics?

Anyone supping their first VB could then be put down like a rabid dog.

#30
Starscream2:05 pm, 09 Mar 09

Anyone who affects other peoples lives to support their habit should be killed.

No one ever forced then to stick a needle in their arm. lower than rats and cockroaches IMO.

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