Mardi Gras signs Festival Accord

Mardi Gras 1Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras welcomes NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s announcement today of the signing of a new Mardi Gras Festival Accord, between Mardi Gras and NSW Police, aimed at ensuring a safe and welcoming experience for all participants and spectators at Mardi Gras events.

Key components of the NSW Government’s Mardi Gras Accord include:

  • Mardi Gras and the NSW Police will jointly plan to ensure a consistent approach to policing that is appropriate to the scale, risk, cultural sensitivities and visitation outcomes of the Mardi Gras Festival.
  • NSW Police and Mardi Gras will jointly plan, and from this NSW Police will determine appropriate policing levels, approach and scale of operations based on assessment of the risks presented. Police will ensure that enforcement occurs fairly, equitably and in accordance with appropriate standard operating procedures.
  • Mardi Gras and other community organisations, along with NSW Police, will work together to provide cultural sensitivity education and training on working with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex communities to ensure the Mardi Gras Festival provides a great experience for all participants and visitors.
  • Temporary street barriers will be removed immediately after the Parade finishes,  to allow Party attendees to easily move towards the Mardi Gras Party at Moore Park and assist Parade spectators to easily disperse, after the Parade ends.
  • Community organisations will continue to assist Police to promote awareness and education that NSW laws regarding alcohol and illegal drug use will be enforced fairly and equitably during the Mardi Gras Festival and that the NSW Police will maintain a drug detection presence where appropriate.

This Accord is important in that it symbolises that the entire Mardi Gras Festival, not just the Parade, is significant across many dimensions:

  • Cultural significance of LGBTQI communities and the Parade – reflected in the Accord by Police and Mardi Gras working together on briefings and cultural sensitivity training, particularly with officers drawn from LACs outside of Surry Hills.
  • Community and visitor experience – recognition that a positive and welcoming experience means that our community and our guests will continue to attend and participate in Mardi Gras, and that visitors will encourage their friends to come to Sydney for Mardi Gras.
  • Economic impact – recognition that the Parade is one of the state’s most significant event in terms of visitation and economic impact, and that improved policing is a key factor in maintaining and growing the record 29,000 unique visitors in 2013.

Mardi Gras is one of the most joyous and celebratory events on the NSW event calendar, with a global reputation as one of the world’s most welcoming celebrations of pride and diversity.

While the investment that our government and corporate partners allow us to invest in developing the Parade and events, parties are still our primary fundraiser. A successful Party means a healthy organisation, which means a strong Parade and Festival.

The community and visitors should feel confident that this announcement signifies a commitment that Mardi Gras, the Police and all agencies will work together to ensure that participants and visitors are well looked after, and made to feel safe and protected, and treated fairly and equitably.

The 2014 Sydney Mardi Gras Festival is shaping up to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever before. And with these new initiatives in place, Festivalgoers can rest easy knowing that the Festival will be looking after them every step of the way.

For more information, visit: www.mardigras.org.au for details.

Image: courtesy of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

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