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Byron Shire
December 2, 2021

Police concerned over safety at Tyagarah clothing-optional beach

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Detective Inspector Matt Kehoe outside the Brunswick police station. Photo Aslan Shand.

Police have expressed concern about beach safety at a known sex pest area as peak tourism season approaches.

Tyagarah is a clothing-optional beach, and its surrounds, which includes the tea tree lakes, are a known problem spot for sex pests. Tyagarah residents around Greys Lane are maintaining their calls for the clothes-optional status of the beach to be removed.

Regarding Council’s recently adopted plans for closed circuit cameras, Detective Inspector Matt Kehoe told The Echo, ‘CCTV will have some deterrent effects, but will be resource intensive if Council or police are required to review the footage to identify possible offences or offenders.’ 

Detective Inspector Kehoe says, ‘We’re obviously still concerned that these matters are being reported to us and there is a significant amount of underreporting from both locals, and I suspect, from visitors’.

‘Our present focus is a drain on our existing resources,’ added Detective Inspector Kehoe.

Tyagarah residents said in a press release that at a meeting on November 15, ‘Police made it clear to Byron Shire councillors that the proposed CCTV cameras in the car park at Tyagarah Beach would have a minimal effect.’

Tyagarah Community Association member Richard Burford said, ‘They said they would be a minor deterrent at best.’

‘Issues include vandalism, perpetrators avoiding the cameras by going as far as the tea tree lakes only and accessing the beach from Sunrise.’

‘Because sex pests are part and parcel of “naturism,” isolated Tyagarah Beach can never be safe while it remains clothing-optional. Until this is changed, the beach will remain the unpredictable website driven sex destination it is today.

‘The strength of the bullying, ridicule and denial toward victims is the reason most women are afraid to come forward and talk, both privately and publicly, about sexual harassment. Nearly all Tyagarah residents have stories of obscene behaviour directed toward them at and around Tyagarah Beach.

‘We thank mayor Simon Richardson and councillors Paul Spooner, Jan Hackett and Michael Lyon for their leadership providing public safety.’

Labor statement

Residents of Tyagarah welcomed the statement from Labour candidate for Ballina, Asren Pugh, which read, ‘The safety of the beach users at Tyagarah must come first. The beach has become unsafe for visitors and for local residents and so the clothing-optional area should be closed.

‘I am calling on council to do the right thing. The decision on clothes optional beaches should normally stay with council, but they need to act responsibly and ensure the safety of beach users.

‘If Council fails to act for public safety, then a Labor government will.’

‘I have met with local residents and share their concerns that the beach is currently unsafe. Local families, women, children and the public are not, and do not feel, safe using Tyagarah Beach. The submissions of local police reinforces this position. It is only with great reluctance that that I support the intervention of the state government, but because of councils failure to act it has now come to that.’

Greens statement

‘We also welcome the statement from Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith MP:

‘I have many concerns about what has become of Tyagarah Beach in the last few years. It is simply no longer a place for locals and mellow visitors to enjoy a nude swim and sunbake.

‘The police reports and advice to me over some time is that the beach has become a hot spot for sexual assaults and sexual harassment. The remoteness of the beach has only intensified this. I have met with residents and members of the Safe Beaches Committee and I commend them on their positive approach to finding a win-win solution.

‘I know that nobody supports the idea of promoting a culture of sexual assault at one of our beaches under the cloak of naturalism.’


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4 COMMENTS

  1. Whether the beach remains clothing optional is irrelevant.

    The bad behaviour happens at the lake and the dunes. Not in the CO area.

    Broken head is not CO declared but it still is.

    Cr Spooner said only 30 or so people want the CO beach. He must have missed the 2000 odd people who signed the petition.

    If they remove the CO status do they really think people are going to pay attention to the decree.

    This has been debated 3 times with the same outcome.
    Stop flogging a dead horse with fake news.

  2. ‘Because sex pests are part and parcel of “naturism,” isolated Tyagarah Beach can never be safe while it remains clothing-optional. Until this is changed, the beach will remain the unpredictable website driven sex destination it is today.

    Since when were sex pests part and parcel of naturism? They aren’t, sex pests infiltrate every aspect of today’s life. “Unpredictable website driven sex destination”? In three years of regular visits to tyagarah Beach I have only witnessed one sexual act and it was about 300m south of Brunswick Heads.

    ‘The strength of the bullying, ridicule and denial toward victims is the reason most women are afraid to come forward and talk, both privately and publicly, about sexual harassment. Nearly all Tyagarah residents have stories of obscene behaviour directed toward them at and around Tyagarah Beach.

    Recently there have been more unaccompanied women and couple on the beach than I’ve ever seen.

    I would love to know who all these people who claim to have been harassed are; my wife has never been harassed on this beach. 2,000 people signed petitions to keep it open. Council has knocked back attempts to close it three times in recent months.

    Somewhere behind this story lurk some powerful and likely monied lobbyists who have only their own commercial interests at heart…

    Media need to let it go, need to come and spend time on the beach to see how it really is. And yes, I also think the cameras will have little to no impact other than to record hour after hour of nothing happening.

  3. Detective Inspector Kehoe is apparently unaware of the timeline detail and information held by the Byron Bay Police otherwise he would have rephrased his reported comments. Reads as though he was set up and caught on the hop which is never a good thing for the Police or the public.

  4. I think that CCTV will have a deterrent effect on sexual predators like the recent male who behaved inappropriately to a woman in the carpark recently. They will have to be thinking ” My bad behaviour will be caught on camera, my number plate will be on CCTV and the police will charge me and send me to court.” So maybe this will stop them committing indecent acts in these areas. Taking away the CO status of the beach will only encourage the perverts to come to this beach. Echo what is motivating you to publish these biased and untrue articles?

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