La Trobe Safety Patrol Bendigo

La Trobe University is the first university in Australia to launch Safety Patrol, a program where students help look after each other on campus.

Safety Patrol members gear up for a busy night. From left to right:Tomas Napolitana, Sarah Patterson, Brayden Wren, Hannah Vibert and Andrew ManganModelled, in part, on the Neighbourhood Watch scheme in the UK, Safety Patrol consists of students who help their peers living on campus feel safe by patrolling the University and providing advice. Currently the Bendigo Safety Patrol has 17 members. 

Safety Patrol comprises paid volunteers from La Trobe’s residences on campus. The students work in shifts during busy periods at the University, such as a recent concert on campus by US rapper Flo Rida bar nights and other evenings when there are significant numbers of students moving around the campus.

‘Safety Patrol assisted us in two peak periods of crowd movement on the night of the Flo Rida Concert,’ said Greg Loughnan, La Trobe University Residential Supervisor – Personal Development.

‘The patrol was operating just after the concert finished at 10 o’clock and several hours later as students returned to the campus from an after-party in the CBD. Patrol members provide a high visibility presence and identify and help manage safety-related risks around the campus’ said Mr Loughnan.

Director of Risk Management at La Trobe University Dr Carl Gibson says Safety Patrol was introduced following an independent review looking at improving safety on campus.

‘We wanted to look at where we could improve and have a better integrated approach to safety for students living on campus. The population on campus consists of young adults in the 18 and 24 age bracket.

‘We constantly strive to provide high levels of safety on our campuses, and there are far less problems with student behaviour compared to similar age cohorts in the general community’ added Dr Gibson. 

‘However, we have to acknowledge that this age group is at higher risk than the general population and it is important that we continue to improve awareness and encourage safe behaviours.  The Safety Patrol, by giving students more ownership for their own safety, is proving to be an important contributor to these aims’ said Dr Gibson.

Student and Safety Patrol member Andrew Mangan says that there is a tightly knit community on campus.

‘I think that we all get a lot out of being on Res’ Mr Mangan said, using the students colloquial term for on-campus accommodation. ‘It’s good to know that we are giving back to it by making it safer and helping out wherever we can.

‘I came here not knowing anyone, and now I have friendships that I cherish and that will last a lifetime. The services and lifestyle here are world class. Staff and students are always there to help us and take an interest in our lives – which is important because studying away from home is not always easy.’

Mr Loughnan said that Safety Patrol supports the many student leadership and supervisory programs in place across Residential Services. He said such programs demonstrate the University’s commitment to safety, security and ultimately the wellbeing and happiness of the La Trobe community.

Bendigo’s Safety Patrol members will head to the University’s Melbourne campus on 26 October to join fellow students involved in the program on that campus for a BBQ hosted by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson. The BBQ has been organised to thank student volunteers and health and safety staff and celebrate Work Safe Week 2011 (17-27 October).


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