Fast facts

Project name: Milk Bar Network Exchange

Organisation: City of Monash

Phase 1: Community Safety Fund Round 1 - $8,000

Phase 2: Community Safety Fund Round 3 - $10,000

Project partners: Monash Milk Bar operators, Victoria Police,  Neighbourhood Watch and Connections Uniting Care

In response to reports received by Council of crimes committed in milk bars, the City of Monash initiated phase 1 of the Milk Bar Network Exchange project to build the capacity of milk bar operators to prevent crime in their businesses and increase their connection to the community.

A steering committee was established comprising of representatives of Victoria Police, Neighbourhood Watch, Connections Uniting Care and the City of Monash.  The steering committee led a municipal wide survey of milk bar operators.  The survey provided a clear insight into the high level of crime occurring in milk bars including robbery, shop lifting, harassment and vandalism. It also assisted the committee to better understand the vulnerability of milk bars and the severity of the impacts these incidents were having on the operators themselves as well as their businesses. 

A Community Safety Forum was later held to educate milk bar operators about how to improve security and prevent crime, as well as how to respond if a crime occurs.  This was particularly important given a high proportion of the operators speak only limited English and as a result felt reluctant to call the police.  Identifying that language was a barrier to effective communication, the committee ensured all communication was assisted through appropriate translations and provided advice on how to use available translation services to report crime to police.

In phase 2, by building on the learnings and connections developed through phase 1, the committee was able to establish a Milk Bar Network Exchange for all milk bar operators in the municipality.  The Monash Milk Bar Network Exchange enabled milk bar operators and staff to come together to learn more about crime prevention and business safety. 

Mllk bar network exchange gathering

Photograph: A Milk Bar Network Exchange session run by Monash Council.

Discussion topics at these meetings included:

  • Business safety
  • How to deal with aggressive people
  • Strategies to prevent robbery, theft and graffiti vandalism
  • Tobacco sales
  • How to report a crime
  • Small business development
  • Secure cash handling
  • Council services available such as conversation language classes
  • Closed circuit television
  • Neighbourhood Watch
  • Credit card fraud
  • Connections Uniting Care

As a result of what they learned at these meetings, milk bar operators across Monash have implemented almost 40 additional security measures within their businesses, 80% feel more connected to other operators and 100% report feeling more connected to the local community. Other reports include an increased awareness of crime prevention, increased awareness of safety and a better understanding of how to prevent shoplifting and protect property.

The Milk Bar Network Exchange has been promoted through a range of channels including local papers, Council newsletters and metropolitan radio. The project was also presented at the 2014 international Crime Prevention and Communities Conference attracting interest from a number of other councils implementing similar projects in their municipalities. A copy of this presentation is available below.

In evaluating the success of the Milk Bar Network program, the City of Monash has noted that Monash Police are now receiving more reports of incidences of crime from small business owners who are now following the lessons learned in the program.

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