What does a gunpoint carjacking on campus say about student safety and security on UON grounds? Nikola Jokanovic considers.
Last Saturday, at 1:30pm, a gun was used to steal a student’s car on campus grounds. The carjacking incident occurred in a parking space near the residential towers on the eastern end of the Callaghan campus, in the broad daylight of an uncrowded Saturday afternoon. No witnesses have come forward so far. Although the stolen red Mazda 3 was later involved in an incident of ‘road rage’ at Sandgate, just north of the University, neither the vehicle nor the man who stole it have yet been found.
The details are uncertain, and the story is still unfolding; but as one of recent memory’s most unusual and alarming criminal incidents in the Newcastle area, let alone on campus grounds, it warrants a closer look at the university’s security measures, and what can be done to ensure student safety on campus.
Oddly enough, the university’s history with gun-related crime is not entirely blank. A string of similar events occurred in 2010 when an attempted robbery involving a firearm occurred near International House (not far from where last week’s incident occurred). This followed a similar incident and a string of attempted car robberies the week before.
Although both the presence of guns and gun-related crime and violence is much lower in Australia than the United States, it appears that the Hunter has something of a hidden gun culture. A Fairfax investigation earlier this year found that the number of registered firearms had increased by a third in the past five years, with some owners demonstrating strange stockpiling behaviours; there’s even someone in Cardiff with 310 registered firearms to their name, the second highest in the state for individual gun ownership.
Still, it can’t be said that Newcastle, the Hunter or even New South Wales or Australia at large have a gun problem. It’s clear to see that what happened this past Saturday was a left-field occurrence, something that has happened on campus grounds only twice in eight years. Which leaves one curious – how will UON respond to such an incident?
When asked for a response on the issue, a UON spokesperson said: “The University is working with police to assist investigations into this incident. We continue to support students and staff and keep them informed of safety and security measures on campus.” It seems that any measures to ensure or enhance campus safety and security have not yet been rolled out or announced.
Students concerned for their safety or security on campus can refer to UON’s ‘Safety and Emergencies’ page. If you need immediate assistance, Security Services at Callaghan are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week at 4921 5888. You can also call 000.
Anyone with any information on last Saturday’s incident is urged to contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
- Director/Lighting/Production Assistant: Layla Beech
- Presenter: Lauren Kempe
- Camera: Alex Preston
- Audio: Katrina Hailstone
- Writers: Layla Beech, Lauren Kempe, Edward Tebay
- Editor: Edward Tebay