ECHUCA-MOAMA’S emergency services will be on high alert ahead of this weekend’s Southern 80.
More than 100 police will patrol both sides of the Murray River, as thousands of people flood Echuca-Moama and camping sites along the river for the event.
Campaspe police Inspector Geoff Owen said planning for the event had started last year, with extra resources coming from across the police service area as well as specialist units from Melbourne.
‘‘This is our biggest event for the year,’’ he said.
‘‘We will have a strong police presence in the Echuca CDB and also along rivers.
‘‘Council bylaws prevent consuming alcohol in the Echuca CBD and that comes with a $300 fine, so we will be very proactive in issuing fines.
‘‘We will also be patrolling in partnership with Parks Victoria in their vehicles, Victoria Police vehicles and off-road motorbikes.
‘‘When we set the tone very early, we have better outcomes.’’
According to Insp. Owen, alcohol is by far the most prevalent issue over the Southern 80 weekend.
However, he said general behaviour over the past two to three years had been good because of a strong police presence.
‘‘Alcohol hasn’t played as much of a part on the Friday and Saturday nights, but we’re still getting issues and problems along the river,’’ he said.
‘‘The last couple of years we have been proactively engaging with those campsites and we’ve got better closer relationships with our partner agencies, DELWP, Parks Victoria, CFA and ambulance, which allow us to achieve better results.’’
Deniliquin police Superintendent Paul Condon said police would work together to target alcohol-related offences, including drug and alcohol-affected drivers of motor vehicles and marine craft.
‘‘Expect to be tested over the weekend,’’ he said.
‘‘Police especially ask that all spectators stay out of the water during the racing as the race will be suspended if there are swimmers in the water and you will be stopping other spectators from viewing the race and you will be putting the running of the races themselves in jeopardy.’’
Supt Condon urged people to consider all spectators and competitions at all times.
‘‘When your behaviour stops someone else from enjoying the race or from having a good time as well then you need to stop or you can expect police to intervene and take action,’’ he said.
‘‘Our goal is for the event to be a safe event for all competitors and spectators.’’
Ambulance Victoria State Health Commander Paul Holman said extra paramedics would also be rostered in Echuca over the weekend to ensure a safe event.
‘‘We have dedicated ambulance resources rostered at the event on Saturday and Sunday and this includes a health commander and liaison officer,’’ he said.
‘‘We know many people will be in Echuca and surrounding districts for this weekend’s event. We’ve been engaging with the organisers in the lead-up to the weekend and we want all participants and spectators to have a safe event.’’