Ms De Clercq must have got a gig at the Melbourne Comedy Festival by now, she's been practising for a long time...
That, in essence, is what she is employed for. It is no mean feat to placate baying media hounds after every single report of even quite trivial incidents.
That said there have been a small number of violent incidetns across the network and there are known hotspots some of which have been identified above.
We would all like to live in a non-violent society, I am sure, where everyonce could undertake a triop by public transport at any time of any day in perfect safety.
The fact is that for around 99.9% of the time this is indeed the case. However there is no telling where and when some form of trouble might arise nor how it will impact anyone.
Frankston has a "Safe City Centre" right opposite the railway / bus interchange but it closes at 4.30pm just when it might be needed most. The police station is some distance away. There have been times when calls for assistance have been unanswered until the 000 service is used, or callers told there are no police available. I suspect this is the same in many suburbs.
Like it or not we live in a hot country where alcohol is a bane of society; hot days and alcohol consumption do not mix. Passions for sport, national identity and even the opposite sex can run high; weather, alcohol and passion do not always make a good mix.
Then there are the often-unlawful substances of choice used by a significant number of our population. In many cases without adverse effect, I am told, but not always.
I don't have a ready-made panacea for all of society's problems. We do have to face up to the unruly element and there needs to be some form of intervention now to prevent the public transport network becoming a haven for their activities and unsafe for paying customers.
It is a worrying trend that the higher levels of violence are being reported from staffed stations, though perhaps incidents at unattended stations are less often reported simply because no staff are there to see and report them. In another thread it is reported that staff at Cranbourne are harrassed daily by youths during the mid-morning period. This serves to illustrate that anything can happen at any time. Cranbourne is single-manned and apart from calling for Police assistance (which might or might not be available) there is little the staff member can do apart from close their window and lock themselves in.
We should be looking to the State Government for answers this year, not promises which can be ignored, welched on or distorted by spin doctors down the track.
Connex has AO teams who can be anywhere anytime but cannot be everywhere all the time. It might well be time to look at having an increased security presence on board trains (and trams) as well as a station-based presence. These need not necessarily be Connex staff but could be perhaps security contractors.
Violence on board the Frankston line trains diminished very sharply after the Coemng trains were refurbished and cameras installed. The chance that any offender would be identified and dealt with improved markedly. It is time that this was extended beyond simply having cameras as a deterrent to having a visible human presence.
When violence on the London Underground started to get out of hand some years ago (particularly on the southern end of the Northern Line) a voluntary group based on the American "Guardian Angels" set themselves up and rode as many trains as they could every day and night. Most passengers were pleased to see them and the violence swiftly abated; they were not security guards nor staff but volunteers (who paid for their tickets as well) who were trained in restraint and intervention, and who would only become involved as a last resort and never as "vigilantes" or strutting around in the way sometimes seen of self-important security staff.
Melbourne should learn from that operation. There might be scope for something similar here.