Canberra Night Crew receives million-dollar funding boost

A Canberra service that's helped thousands of late-night revellers affected by drugs and alcohol and prevented hundreds of sexual assaults have had their future secured for a further two years.

The Canberra Night Crew, a volunteer organisation operating near the Civic bus interchange to help partygoers get home safely after a night out, received a $1.2 million funding boost from the ACT government, securing its future until June 2021.

Volunteers of the Canberra Night Crew, which just received a million-dollar funding boost. Photo: Supplied

Volunteers of the Canberra Night Crew, which just received a million-dollar funding boost. Photo: Supplied

The service, run by St John's Ambulance volunteers, had been running since late 2016, but recently was funded only on a month-to-month basis.

The night crew's program manager Michelle Stokes said the contract extension allowed for the service to help more Canberrans on Friday and Saturday nights.

"We'll be able to put out more people to help and more duty leaders as well," Ms Stokes said.

"It won't be expanded in terms of the number of nights or hours we'll be out there, but we'll have a larger base of people."

Since the Canberra Night Crew began, volunteers have helped more than 13,600 people on a night out.

First aid was provided to 1375 revellers, while the night crew prevented 345 potential sexual assaults, 372 ambulance trips and 435 police call outs.

Ms Stokes said the Canberra Night Crew tent provided a safe space for drug or alcohol-affected partygoers to recover.

"The aim of the night crew is to provide a harm-minimisation service, aimed at reducing the occurrence of violence and sexual assault," Ms Stokes said.

"It helps a lot when people are at the point where they need assistance, or they're on their own and they've become separated from friends.

"A lot of the time we come across people who have had their phone die, and we have a charging station for people so they're able meet back up with people."

As part of the government funding boost, two members per shift must identify as Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander.

While the funding guarantees the night crew's future until June 2021, the contract can be extended until June 2022 if there's an agreement between the night crew and the government.

The idea for the night crew began after a meeting between St John's Ambulance and ACT police, who wanted to reduce the number of incidents on the streets of Civic at night.

The initiative was based off a similar scheme based in Sydney's King's Cross area run by the Thomas Kelly Foundation.

Ms Stokes said emergency crews had noticed the effect of the service since it began.

"When we come into contact with police or ambulance officers during the night, they say [the night crew] reduces the pressure on them, which is really important," she said.