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Hobart Salvos tent a haven for city’s late-night revellers


(From left) Michelle Allen (Safer Communities Coordinator with Hobart City Council), Toby Strochnetter (Street Team Coordinator Hobart), Anita Reeve (Regional Manager Doorways), Ezra Davidson (Street Team Support Worker in Hobart) and Andrew Pike (Program Lead - Safe City Program with Hobart City Council) at the Salvos tent.

It’s late on a Saturday night in the heart of Tasmania’s popular Salamanca district and locals are well and truly living it up. Large crowds spanning the young and old gather in all manner of weird and wonderful places to cut loose and unwind. And pitched right amongst all the merriment of the bustling city is a shiny new Salvos marquee fondly called the Rest and Recovery Tent that is proving to be a vital haven for late-night revellers.


 

BY LERISSE SMITH

It’s 10.30pm on a Saturday, and Hobart’s Salvation Army Street Team is gearing up for another long night of community outreach in the heart of the Tasmania capital.


For the next five hours or so, the team’s priority will be to engage with locals both on the streets of Salamanca and at their central base to offer emotional and practical support wherever needed to help people keep safe on their fun night out.


With its coffee cart, which often serves upwards of 200 to 300 people on any given night, a friendly smile and a listening ear, it will be another busy night for all.

  

But there’s been an extra skip in their step lately, thanks to an exciting new addition proving to be a vital complement to their amazing outreach service delivery: the Rest and Recovery Tent.


The recent initiative draws late-night revellers of all ages to the safe place to seek assistance from the team’s volunteers and recuperate after a big night out.


“We wanted a dignified space for people, so people aren’t staring at them out on the streets,” said Anita Reeve, The Salvation Army’s Doorways Regional Manager in Tasmania.


“There’s a lot of people who are intoxicated, and sometimes they don’t need that medical intervention but just that space where they can have some water, be rehydrated, rest and recover. Sometimes they can be quite unwell. So, we wanted to create a space where they felt safe and secure, and to also reduce the incidence of the Street Team having to call Ambulance Tasmania to bring down staff to care for the people.”


The Street Team staff gather to set up the Rest and Recovery Tent for another night in Tasmania’s Salamanca district complete with water bottles and Chupa Chups!

Caring for the public who are out and about enjoying themselves is a top priority for the Street Team staff who man the recovery marquee and provide much-needed practical support.


Useful supplies include sick bags for people who feel unwell so they can get home safely in a taxi in unsoiled clothing. Foot thongs for females are also stocked in the tent so women don’t risk stepping on broken glass (which often happens) after taking off their uncomfortable high-heeled shoes. Other equipment includes stretchers so people can lie down, as well as CPR apparatus and first-aid kits. Plans are also underway to install privacy screens inside the marquee. The teams also hand out Chupa Chups, which are proving quite popular, and they assist the team members in opening up conversations safely and casually.


First aid is a main focus for the Street Team when caring for the public inside the tent, as people can fall and cut themselves when quite intoxicated and/or sustain injuries.


Visitors to the recovery marquee engage with the staff often for a variety of reasons apart from being intoxicated or injured. Information cards are sometimes given out to people recovering in the tent that contain referrals to support services if they have indicated needing help with issues such as drugs and alcohol, mental health, housing and sexual assault.


The concept of the tent has been an exciting extension to the outreach night work of the Street Team that has been undertaken in both Salamanca and Launceston’s CBD, Tasmania’s two biggest cities, since 2015, both on Friday and Saturday nights with accompanying coffee carts. Initially, it was part of The Salvation Army’s Drug and Alcohol stream and then, in 2022, was handed over to the Community Engagement stream.


“I guess you don’t always see the fruit of what you’re doing. But sometimes, when you do hear it, it’s really good. It’s a boost of encouragement for us all.”

Meetings between Doorways staff and local council safety committees in Hobart and Launceston led to introducing the recovery marquee in Salamanca. Plans are afoot to launch another one in Launceston around May. A Council Community Grant from the Launceston City Council funds the marquee and equipment, while Hobart City Council supported the Salamanca tent and some of its supplies.


And ensuring a level of safety for the public has been a driving force behind the work of the Street Team.


“For young people that are out and about, it’s just about encouraging good practice around their substance and drug and alcohol use, and also encouraging people caring for each other, in finding a safe way home,” Anita said.


“Another part of our primary role is making contact with some of the emergency services. For example, where there’s behaviour escalating or there’s a fight going on, we don’t ever intervene in things like that going on. But, where we can, we de-escalate from a distance by calling out to ‘break it up’ or similar. And if we can’t, then we call in the police, and also, if needed, Ambulance Tasmania.”


Spiritual support for the Street Team’s work has been regularly provided, with strong relationships being formed with both the Hobart and Launceston Corps, whose members regularly pray for the teams as they embark on their nightly ventures each week. Plans are underway to introduce a chaplain for both sites in the future.


Anita said the Street Team outreach work could lead to faith pathways for the public and believed a key component was communicating to people in the local community that The Salvation Army cared for them without any preconception that they had to give anything back and to let them know about other activities the local Salvos provide.


Ezra Davidson checks the first aid kit supplies in the marquee.

Practical help has also been forthcoming from the Rotary Club of Bellerive, which has provided a donation for procuring a wheelchair designed to facilitate the smooth movement of the marquee patrons who are injured or unwell, plus a hydration station and other necessary equipment to further its mission of providing aid and support to those who require it most.


Volunteers are integral to the outreach work. They range from teachers and nurses to local university students, usually with two teams rostered to operate successfully.


Online training for those involved in the outreach ministry includes components of Mental Health First Aid, trauma-informed care and first aid so the volunteers are well equipped to manage practical and emotional situations of all sorts, and conversations with the late-night revellers that often can focus on mental health issues. Both Hobart Council and club venues provide security across the Salamanca and Launceston sites to ensure staff safety.


Positive feedback from the public provides much-welcomed encouragement for the teams, especially as their shift can often finish at 3am, sometimes later.


“We do get some really good feedback,” Anita said. “For example, we had a guy come back to us we assisted about a year ago who was having a particularly bad time with alcohol and was overusing and binge drinking. He took one of the cards (that provided contact numbers for professional drug and alcohol help), and he had a bit of a chat with someone from the team at the time. The man then came back recently to inform the team that a conversation with the Street Team changed his life, and now had his own home and employment.


“I guess you don’t always see the fruit of what you’re doing. But sometimes, when you do hear it, it’s really good. It’s a boost of encouragement for us all.”

 

The Salvation Army’s Doorways Regional Manager in Tasmania, Anita Reeve, (third from left), says the new Rest and Recovery Tent offers a safe, secure and dignified space for people enjoying a night out in the city. 


 

 

 

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