Potentially Deadly Weapons Found On Darwin Buses | NT News

Release date: 18/07/2016

NT News, by Lauren Roberts, 17 July 2016
Axes, jagged knives, scissors, drunken fights and verbal abuse – this is what our unarmed transit safety officers face every day while trying to keep Darwin bus drivers and passengers safe.

One of the weapons confiscated by staff on public buses in Darwin. PICTURE: Supplied

However, the Department of Transport said enough was being done to protect workers, and passengers.
Minister for Transport Peter Chandler said the “majority” of incidents were minor in nature and required minimal involvement by transit officers.
“The number of incidents detected and dealt with has increased over time, due in part to additional Transit Safety and security guard resources providing an increased ability to identify and deal with incidents,” Mr Chandler said.
Aside from a planned review of Transit Officer powers, the department will not be introducing new measures to improve the safety of workers or passengers despite concerns raised by the Transport Workers’ Union.
TWU SA/NT branch organiser Elise McLay said bus drivers “certainly” did not feel safe driving in Darwin and Palmerston.
“We’ve had drivers threatened and assaulted with weapons including machetes and axes,” Ms McLay said. “It is not uncommon for drivers to be spat at or verbally abused.”

Some of the weapons confiscated by staff on public buses in Darwin. PICTURE: Supplied
“It is important to remember that it is not only the drivers and transit safety officers at risk but also the wider travelling public.”
“When you consider who relies on our bus network it is often those most vulnerable in our society who rely on Public Transport; the elderly, the disabled and injured and school-aged children.”
“It was certainly of concern to the TWU that at a meeting we attended to discuss the safety concerns of our members with The Department of Transport it appeared that Department Executives were more concerned whether there would be a story in the NT News rather than genuinely understanding the safety concerns of our members and pragmatically discussing alternatives or potential solutions.”
A former transit safety officer, who did not want to be identified, said it appeared violence on the bus network was getting worse.
“We carry a radio and handcuffs, that’s it,” he said.
“Someone’s going to die … It’s terrifying. They don’t take our concerns seriously – because they’re not out there.”
The most recent Transit Safety Unit statistics show that there were 87 assaults on bus patrons, nine assaults on bus drivers, and six assaults on transit officers in the financial year ending June 2015.
A total of 247 serious incidents were attended that year.

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