Six information booths set up throughout Sydney’s CBD on New Year’s Eve will become safe spaces for “tired and emotional” revellers from about midnight.
The City of Sydney said the booths would have trained Salvation Army volunteers administering basic first aid when needed.
They will also provide people with phone and internet access if they need to connect with friends or family in order to get home safely.
It is an extension of a scheme that started last New Year’s Eve and has continued to operate at Town Hall and Kings Cross every weekend since then.
Nate Brown from the Salvation Army is leading the initiative and said there would be 50 volunteers involved, with some roving throughout the city seeking out revellers who looked like they needed help.
The booths will operate around Circular Quay, The Rocks, Town Hall, Darling Harbour and Kings Cross.
Help for people who look ‘worse for wear’
“Revellers can come and get directions about transport or receive first aid, water or a bit of sugar in the form of Chuppa Chups, or some help to get home safely,” Mr Brown said.
“It’s definitely a big night for a lot of people, and some can end up pretty worse for wear.
“If they have lost contact with their friends or their phones have died, we can help them with phone and internet access to help them reconnect with friends or family.”
He said last year there were half a dozen instances where revellers needed to be taken to hospital emergency departments for treatment.
“We were flat out last, there were so many people in the city and our volunteers were really busy until about four o’ clock in the morning,” he added.
Mr Brown also said volunteers were trained in dealing with aggression and trying to defuse potentially violent situations.
“Most people out here really enjoy themselves but unfortunately you get some people who get a bit of drink in the system and they get aggressive,” he said.
“We want to make sure those situations are resolved really quickly without anyone getting hurt.”
‘Sensational’ plans for Sydney
Sydney New Year’s Eve director Aneurin Coffey said plans were on track for a “sensational” fireworks display for the city.
“The weather is looking good and we started loading up the bridge with fireworks last night,” he said.
“It will be the biggest display ever on the harbour bridge with an extra 2,500 effects,” he said. “So keep an eye on the bridge, it will look spectacular.”
He said the cost of this year’s celebrations was $7 million, but described it as “money well spent” because it would generate more than $130 million for the state economy in the form of tourism spin-offs.
Great work from these first aid volunteers over the new years eve festivals. The good news is that this is occuring in all states. You too could be a first aid volunteer at events. Sing up now to get some first aid training in Canberra with Canberra First Aid.