Bouncers will roam the streets during nights out instead of guarding pubs and clubs in a radical trial proposed by the New South Wales government.
The proposal will see communal security guards patrolling entire precincts to reduce violence and create a more positive atmosphere for those enjoying Sydney‘s nightlife.
NSW Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy, John Graham, hopes to begin trialling the idea before summer and is looking for willing councils.
In-house security will remain permanently stationed in larger venues, but smaller ones will have staff members at the door welcoming patrons in instead.
Community members have vehemently opposed the idea, believing it will lead to an increase in brawls at venues which require a quick response from trained bouncers to stamp out.
The plan will not be ‘the end of bouncers’, according to Mr Graham, who insists that it will renew the city’s night scene that has struggled to reboot since the pandemic.
‘We absolutely do need bouncers and security to keep people safe, here’s a more flexible way to do it that works overseas,’ he told 2GB’s Deborah Knight.
‘Often one of the bits of feedback I get is that it is quite tense on the doors of venues with quite heavy security just as you’re coming in: Here’s a better way to do it.’
Clubs that do not need around-the-clock security will pool their money together under the new plan which the minister claims will save money and keep the broader area safe.
Similar security models have reportedly proven effective in London and Brighton in the UK, and Washington in the United States.
‘A precinct approach to security could mean less security on the door of an individual venue and more people out in the precinct and on the street giving the right guidance and making sure patrons and the public feel safe and welcomed to a good night out rather than the antagonistic and confrontational atmosphere that reigns currently,’ Mr Graham told the Daily Telegraph.
‘I want to go out at night in NSW to be as relaxed as a summer’s day at the beach or by the pool. Unfortunately, that is the opposite of the night-time culture that has been produced by the era of lockouts. It’s too tense, it’s not welcoming, and security is too heavy-handed.’
The Minns government introduced the idea after the Night Time Industries Association surveyed young Sydneysiders and found that they ‘often described [security] as intimidating’.
Suburbs that are currently being eyed for the trial phase of the program include Redfern, Hornsby, Leichhardt and Randwick.
Mr Graham has encouraged local councils to brainstorm the idea with his office so that the city’s lacking nightlife can become reinvigorated as soon as possible.
The proposal comes with Sydney’s nightlife scene remaining subdued, six years after drastic lockout laws were brought in to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence.
The laws were lifted in 2020, about the same time a convenient weekend $2.80 public transport cap was removed, but by then 176 venues across the city had already lost so much business they weren’t able to stay open.
Concerned locals however still oppose the idea of removing bouncers which they say will make it harder for security to immediately respond when fights break out.
Sam, 22, worked at the Region Hotel in Kingston for two years and told Daily Mail Australia that bouncers patrolling the streets might only increase tension.
‘I don’t know if that would solve the problem of people feeling intimidated, like when you see a cop walking down the street it also tightens you up a bit,’ he said.
‘And if something does happen it sounds like security would be less responsive to something in an actual venue.
‘If a fight breaks out, is a staff member supposed to get involved or are they supposed to let it continue until the security or cops can get there?’
The former hospitality worker said that he has had to de-escalate situations between patrons on a number of occasions but added that bouncers were ‘built for the job’.
‘I’ve personally had to de-escalate quite a few problems but not everyone is as confident as I am,’ he said.
‘I think that it would require a significant amount of extra training because I don’t know what the law is about putting your hands on someone if you’re just a regular worker.
‘I know that most people would choose self preservation over de-escalation if it looked dangerous, and I feel like most bouncers are built for the job whereas hospitality workers come in many different shapes and sizes.’