By Charlene Macaulay and Ewen McRae

A series of community safety forums in Brimbank in 2018 will help determine policing priorities and identify community safety concerns.

Community Safety Networks will be set up across 12 Victorian communities in the next two years, aimed at giving residents a greater voice in Victoria Police’s ongoing efforts to combat crime.

The department of justice is funding anti-crime forums in Wyndham, Melton, Whittlesea, Cardinia, Latrobe and Ballarat before the end of the year, with Brimbank one of six other municipalities to host forums from July next year.

Each community will receive up to $50,000 to deliver local crime prevention initiatives through the networks.

The networks, made up of local residents, councils and community groups, will take part in a range of forums and initiatives involving Victoria Police, Neighbourhood Watch, Crime Stoppers and the Department of Justice and Regulation.

Speaking on the launch of the Wyndham Safety Network, Wyndham Police Acting Inspector Peter Bitton said police would approach community, school and youth groups and ask them to nominate people who might be interested in attending.

“What we want to do is hear their perspectives on community safety, then to highlight what they see as the main issues, so then we can workshop some solutions,” he said.

“Do they feel safe? Are we meeting their expectations? Are the council meeting their expectations? What could be improved around Wyndham for their community safety?”

Meanwhile, Protect Victoria founder Hayden Bradford has labelled the group’s Caroline Springs rally on Sunday a “disaster” after just four people attended.

Mr Bradford said the group was expecting over 100 people to join them in their push for harsher penalties for perpetrators of serious violent crime and was incredibly disappointed with the turnout.

“Obviously crime isn’t an issue in the western suburbs,” he said.

“The only way we’re going to bring about change is through people power and that hasn’t happened today. We probably won’t come back out to the western suburbs again.”