Tyagarah residents told a meeting on Thursday they are pleased to see the change in behaviour at the area’s clothing-optional beach, which they say had become a hotspot for sexual predators.
But activist Dean Jefferys, who organised the meeting with police, residents, naturists and Byron Shire Cr Sarah Ndiaye, said the police needed to show more tolerance towards people skinny-dipping outside Byron’s only clothing optional area.
Skinny dippers hassled
Tyagarah resident Gwen Gould, herself a skinny dipper, told Echonetdaily, ‘I’m 77 in two weeks and I get hassled.
‘The police presence and actions have improved things majorly. We as locals all feel really grateful to the police for the job they are doing. People are asking for discretion – but then that makes [the police] judge and jury,’ she said.
‘Nude ain’t rude but sexual harassment is unacceptable.
‘Since becoming ‘clothes-optional’ Tyagarah beach has become a parade ground of overt aggressive sexual display and harassment, unsafe for ordinary folk just wanting to enjoy time at the beach.
Ms Gould said police were now ‘making every effort to make it safe again and have the support of the Tyagarah residents’.
‘We want our beach back again free of predators.
‘As locals we need to respect what the police are doing for us,’ she said.
‘Right now they have to come down hard because of the history of the area and even thought it is so much better there are still sexual predators there.
‘It will take time to resolve all these issues and make the are safe for everyone again and the police are doing a great job,’ Ms Gould said.
Mr Jefferys said police indicated they had to come down hard early on to make an impact.
‘We’ve heard they don’t want to be arresting people naked on the beach but they want to create the biggest possible impact, letting the perpetrators know that they won’t tolerate it anymore,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘I wouldn’t be surprised if they back down a little bit.’
Tyagarah – worst spot
He added that declaring Tyagarah as the shire’s only clothing-optional beach 20 years ago was a big mistake.
‘Tyagarah is the worst spot – nobody wants to spend $8 for parking. So we’ve ended up with a beach just for Queenslanders.
At the meeting Cr Ndiaye mentioned that council was planning to put more signs up around Tyagarah and one at the southern end of Brunswick.
According to Mr Jefferys she also ‘suggested we apply for a designated clothes-optional area just south of Brunswick.’
‘Yet staying with the original idea from 20 years ago I said we don’t want a designated clothes-optional area we just want the police to back off and just fine the real criminals.
‘We need to have an understanding with council and police that only people who are actually behaving offensively would be hassled by police.
‘There’s quite a few people calling for a nude rally but I’m trying to convince people that we wait and see what happens, see if the police will respond to our request.
Police training needed
Mr Jefferys said he though police needed extra training ‘to deal with the community they represent – we see this with the bashing of the naked teen in Byron Bay. It’s the same officers doing this.’
‘Policing this area is a little bit different to the western suburbs, and should reflect the nature of the local community.
‘Another thing I’m keen to see is that when these charges go to court, I hope and trust that the magistrates express the change in community values around nudity. What may have been offensive 200 years ago is not necessarily the case these days,’ he said.