Event organisers in the Bendigo region are not the only ones having to grapple with new measures aimed at ensuring the safety of participants and spectators.
Last week the organisers of the annual Bendigo Bank Fun Run announced this year's event was cancelled due to the onerous costs of security measures, particularly barriers to protect against possible attacks using vehicles.
Bendigo Health fundraising advisory board chairman Scott Elkington said fun run organisers had to satisfy certain requirements to obtain the necessary permits for the event, including new security precautions.
City of Greater Bendigo's manager of tourism and major events, Terry Karamaloudis, told the Bendigo Advertiser the council now took into consideration guidelines established by the state and federal governments when it came to managing risks and safety at community events.
These include 'Victorian Guidelines for Planning Safe Public Events', a document developed by several state government and emergency service agencies, and recommendations from the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee.
If the fun run organisers had not addressed the guidelines, Mr Karamaloudis said, the council would not have approved the event permit.
Event organisers in Ballarat also have to consider such new security measures when planning events.
The City of Ballarat has created its own assessment guide for crowded places, based on the national counter-terrorism committee's guidelines, which applies to all event organisers.
"Should the assessment indicate a risk to public safety, the event organisers are required to liaise with council and Victoria Police in relation to the event specifics in this regard," a council spokesperson said.
"Every event application and risk assessment are evaluated to determine if the event organiser is to complete a Crowded Places Security Checklist.
"Council officers work closely with event organisers to develop the strategies and appropriate actions that need to be undertaken to ensure risk to event goers is minimised, we are committed to the ongoing safety of our community."
Mount Alexander Shire Council developed its event guidelines with emergency services, who review emergency management plans submitted by event organisers and apply the state and federal guidelines.
"Since the new guidelines have come into effect, Council has worked collaboratively with Victoria Police and event organisers to take additional precautions to improve traffic safety at events such as the Maldon Twilight Dinner," a council spokesperson said.
"We continually review our event requirements based on feedback from emergency services, and are planning a more formal review of our guidelines and event templates later in the year."
Why are these guidelines used?
Mr Karamaloudis said the City of Greater Bendigo had a duty of care to the community when approving events and had to ensure organisers had taken all risks into consideration.
"We've always had the risk lens on.... but now more than ever," he said.
He said it would be irresponsible of the council to grant permits when those guidelines had not been addressed.
If anything were to happen, Mr Karamaloudis said, there would be questions as to why the guidelines were not followed. "This whole exercise is one huge 'what if' situation," he said.
He said it was not only about terrorism, but protecting the community from anyone who might want to cause harm.
He said the guidelines were not developed by council and it was the responsibility of event organisers to meet them.
The guidelines invited organisers to investigate possible changes to their events, he said, that would reduce the need for security measures.
Mr Karamaloudis said the council wanted all events to continue.
"This is about careful, prudent planning in today's society," he said.
Mr Elkington, from Bendigo Health, said the City of Greater Bendigo and police had been great supporters of the fun run.
The Mount Alexander Shire spokesperson acknowledged the new guidelines could place pressure on event organisers.
"However, public safety is a priority," they said.
Not all councils have adopted new security measures.
Loddon Shire chief executive officer Phil Pinyon said the council had its own guide, created in 2016, to assist event organisers. This guide includes a section on risk management.
Mr Pinyon said the state and federal guidelines had not informed this guide and those concerns had not been an issue to date, but those documents would be considered when the guide was reviewed in 2020.
What do the guidelines say?
The series of guidelines from the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee's includes protecting crowded places from people using vehicles as weapons and protecting them from armed offenders.
They accompany a nationwide strategy on terrorism and crowded places and a security checklist for organisers to follow.
This checklist asks those in charge of crowded places to consider such security measures as barriers to protect against vehicles, preventing access of unauthorised vehicles and procedures to identify suspicious vehicles and people, among many others.
The Victorian Guidelines for Planning Safe Public Events was developed as a resource mostly for event organisers, but also other agencies, to identify risks and provide a consistent, statewide approach to safety.
Less focused on the risk of terrorism, the state guidelines cover a wide range of issues including crowd dynamics and control, emergency management (including natural disasters and human-created problems), and other issues.
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