16 August 2022

Calls for decency after cruel, senseless vandalism of community facilities

| Lottie Twyford
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Graffiti on a building

The Diamantina Scout Group was shocked when they arrived at their facilities on Tuesday evening (9 August) and found they had been defaced. Photo: Julia Clark.

A Scout Group based in Belconnen has issued a call for decency and respect after their facilities were vandalised and graffitied earlier this month.

On the evening of Tuesday, 9 August, the Diamantina Scout Group arrived at their Kaleen hall to find graffiti on every available external wall, as well as doors and windows and the shed.

It was particularly disappointing for the Scouts as it’s not the first time they’ve had to deal with being targeted by vandals. In 2010, a random arson attack left the scouts without any hall at all after it was razed.

Insurance didn’t cover the full cost of building a new hall,and it took the group a long time to get back up and running.

Scouts ACT president Jackie Stenhouse said it can be quite distressing for young children to come along to Scouts and see this level of destruction.

“It was pretty extensive vandalism and outside the realm of what we usually experience,” she said.

“Small children can be pretty distressed to see a place they usually feel quite safe, and in a community, to be defaced like that.

“It’s hard for them to understand.”

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Unfortunately, it’s not the first time something of this nature has happened at Scouts facilities in Canberra. Mrs Stenhouse said every time, it costs money and time they really don’t have.

“It’s always really quite disappointing that we have to divert scarce resources and our previous volunteer time away from what we’re committed to doing into [managing] such wanton destruction,” she explained.

The senseless nature of vandalism is difficult for the Scouts to understand, given the perpetrators didn’t even attempt to break in.

“You could sort of understand if people had been driven to it by economic need, but vandalism is the most difficult thing to understand,” Mrs Stenhouse said.

“I can’t comprehend why because there is no point to it.”

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Scout leaders are used to mucking in and helping to get graffiti cleaned up, but the extent of this damage means insurance will likely need to get involved.

And while that might save some money, it won’t save anyone any time at all.

Mrs Stenhouse has a message for the perpetrators: “This is a community hall for a group of well-meaning people who are just trying our best to give children an opportunity to experience scouting and when you cause this kind of damage, you just suck time and money out of an organisation that doesn’t have very much of it at all,” she said.

“It’s just cruel.”

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While there is no specific offence for vandalism, making it difficult for police to pull accurate statistics about how many incidents are reported, when an offender is prosecuted for ‘property damage’, they can face fines of up to $8000, imprisonment for six months, or both.

A spokesperson for ACT Policing said that as most vandals are young people, prosecution is often not the preferred outcome in many cases.

“From a Police and Government perspective – education, deterrent, disruption, investigation and prosecution are all strategies to deal with vandalism,” they said

“Proactive policing, alongside the current and expanded use of CCTV, work as both a deterrent and an investigative tool. These strategies can also be used to help police intervene prior to and during vandalism to disrupt it.”

If you have information about vandalism at the Diamantina Scout Hall, contact Crime Stoppers ACT. Information about how to report graffiti is available from the ACT Government.

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Beautiful words from the ACT Policing spokesperson. Clearly they haven’t worked here. Find an alternate textbook on community policing and apply its model. Start by recruiting a few more community police.

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