City News

Playing fair at Mardi Gras

The Surry Hills police station. Photo: Paul Gregoire

Community outcry over the conduct of NSW Police at the 2013 Mardi Gras has led to the launch of Fair Play, an initiative which informs partygoers of their legal rights.

Produced by the Inner City Legal Centre in association with ACON and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Fair Play provides online legal information and on-the-ground support.

Dan Stubbs, Director of the Inner City Legal Centre, said Fair Play replaces 2009’s Project Blue and is in response to community calls for better understanding of the law.

“It’s really for anyone at Mardi Gras events. What they can and should do to follow the law. What might happen if they have any contact with police,” Mr Stubbs said.

“It provides a follow-up opportunity if people are charged. If there are issues or concerns about any contact with the police then we make legal advice available.”

Michael Rolik, CEO of Mardi Gras, said drugs are a reality in NSW and Fair Play provides important information that people are often unaware of.

“This website…gives quite frank and detailed information about safe partying, using alcohol or other drugs [and] the risks that are associated with that,” Mr Rolick said.

“What people’s rights are in relation to sniffer dogs. A lot of people aren’t doing the wrong thing but they’re going through a process with these dogs and it’s really quite confronting.”

Nicolas Parkhill, CEO of ACON said volunteer Fair Players will provide legal and emotional support to party goers as well as monitor police at key Mardi Gras events.

“Fair Players will share information with party goers, offer support to those who have interacted with police and safely monitor and document police activities,” Mr Parkhill said.

Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich said the Fair Play initiative complements changes being made to Mardi Gras events as a result of the NSW Police Force and LGBTI organisations working together.

“Everyone coming needs to know the NSW laws, their rights and the police powers. I hope that the message will get out widely,” Mr Greenwich said.

Mr Stubbs praised Surry Hills LAC Police Superintendent Tony Crandell for changes being made to the policing approach for this year’s Mardi Gras.

“The police have certainly responded [and] have made a lot of changes,” he said.

“I think Tony Crandell’s doing a great job to change the approach.”

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