El­len­dale raises pe­ti­tion

Cam­paign to move con­victed sex of­fend­ers goes on­line

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - BEN WATER­WORTH, PA­TRICK BILLINGS, JEN­NIFER CRAW­LEY & JES­SICA HOWARD

EL­LEN­DALE re­mains a town di­vided as de­bate con­tin­ues to rage on about the hous­ing of three con­victed sex of­fend­ers in their com­mu­nity.

The small Cen­tral High­lands town­ship has been the fo­cus of a cam­paign over the past week by lo­cals who are speak­ing out against the ex­pris­on­ers be­ing housed by com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tion The Free­dom Cen­tre.

An on­line pe­ti­tion set up yes­ter­day on change.org has al­ready amassed more than 70 sig­na­tures speak­ing out against the hous­ing of the three men.

It comes af­ter a town meet­ing that was at­tended by about 20 per cent of El­len­dale’s pop­u­la­tion last Tues­day saw sev­eral con­cerned res­i­dents speak out against the hous­ing of the three men.

“If there was a process of com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion they would have re­alised the prob­lems they are foist­ing on the com­mu­nity,” El­len­dale res­i­dent Tony Don­aghy said ahead of the meet­ing last week.

The three men have since been banned from us­ing the town’s only store and on Satur­day the house that the men are liv­ing in was at­tacked by van­dals.

Po­lice were called to the prop­erty about 11pm af­ter rocks and toma­toes were thrown at the house, re­sult­ing in bro­ken win­dows.

Free­dom Cen­tre chair­woman El­iz­a­beth Cole­man, a for­mer Tas­ma­nian of the Year nom­i­nee, has been giv­ing ex­pris­on­ers a se­cond chance for more than 10 years.

She said the men, who were in the house when it was at­tacked, were very dis­tressed.

“One of the men’s fam­i­lies don’t want him there be­cause they’re fright­ened he’s go­ing to be hurt and I think th­ese peo­ple prob­a­bly want to hurt me too now,” Ms Cole­man said.

Cen­tral High­lands Coun­cil Deputy Mayor An­drew Downie said coun­cil had no le­gal ba­sis to evict the three el­derly men but would ‘bring pres­sure’ for them to move on.

“They didn’t con­sult the com­mu­nity about it, they just de­cided to buy the home and put the sex of­fend­ers in it,” Cr Downie said.

“There should have been some con­sul­ta­tion, [but that] doesn’t mean the com­mu­nity would have been happy with the de­ci­sion.”

Cr Downie said El­len­dale wasn’t ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause there was no pub­lic trans­port, ex­cept the school bus, and it would af­fect the com­mu­nity’s sense of se­cu­rity.

Mean­while, Pris­on­ers Le­gal Ser­vice chair­man Greg Barns is urg­ing Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mis­sioner Robin Banks to ex­am­ine the re­fusal by a lo­cal busi­ness to serve the three men.

“They are breach­ing the Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act by re­fus­ing to serve peo­ple in cir­cum­stances where it’s clear there is no ra­tio­nal ob­jec­tion that can be taken to pro­vid­ing ser­vice to those in­di­vid­u­als,” he said.

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