Victoria police brace for Oz Day violence


At 76 ceremonies dotted across Victoria, 4491 people from all over the world will celebrate Australia Day with a citizenship ceremony.

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There will be a presentation, an oath, and, most likely, some form of barbecue.

Sausages are expected to sizzle on backyard grills right across the state, but for those who wish to venture out, Melbourne’s CBD will host a flag-raising ceremony, a parade and a fireworks display.

Almost two tonnes of explosives will be used during the 15-minute show, display director Allan Spiegel said, in Victoria’s largest ever Australia Day fireworks display.

“It is a very high-energy display with almost 11,500 individual bursts,” Mr Spiegel said.

But as dads fire up the barbecue and mums prepare their pavs, emergency services are engaging in a different type of preparation.

Patrols will be stepped up in city hotspots and around public transport hubs to deal with the expected surge in violence.

Victoria Police say there are more assaults in the state on Australia Day than any other public holiday.

Last year, there were 121 non-family violence related assaults on January 26 – almost double that of an average day in Victoria.

There were also 109 assaults reported to police on Australia Day in 2012 and 121 the previous year.

But they are unable to explain why this day in particular sees a spike in assaults.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said they occur mostly at open air events, where large crowds have gathered.

But he couldn’t explain why a similar rate of violence isn’t occurring on New Year’s Eve, when hundreds of thousands are out celebrating.

“I don’t understand why Australia Day sees so much more violence,” he said on Thursday.

“We have lots of public events, lots of occasions, but it’s still our worst day.”

For those heading to parades, citizenship ceremonies or backyard barbies, the weather, at least, promises to be on its best behaviour.

Fine, sunny conditions are predicted state-wide with no chance of rain.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Sarah Scully said the temperature is expected to reach 29 in Melbourne, and will hover around the high 20s for the southern part of the state, rising into the low 30s in the northern regions.

“It’s perfect weather for Australia day barbecues with fine and sunny conditions forecast across the state,” Ms Scully said.