Righto then, sorry for the long post in advance!! It appears the nudist community is a pretty “positive action” kind of bunch!! To be fair, we have played a couple of games of “Council wants to close the beach” in the past – it’s never fun, the arguments are always the same, and the strategies that would be most effective are yet to be employed anywhere that we’re aware of (and there are positive steps that can be taken, we’ve read the report!!).
The title of this post is actually the first line of another article about Sunnyside pointed out to us today – Click here to read. According to the article:
The [Mornington Peninsula] Leader has been inundated with complaints since it revealed Mornington Peninsula Shire Council was determined to have Sunnyside North beach’s nudist status reviewed.
Well done everyone for showing your support for our beaches – we know there’s lots of support out there, and it’s nice to see it in action!! Any time an article about our beaches runs with a poll, we always see landslide wins in favour of keeping the beaches Clothing Optional (CO). If there are comments permitted, the trend is usually obvious pretty early – lots of support, and bunch of ambivalence (“who cares; if I don’t like it I just won’t use that beach; whatever…”), and the very small minority that actually seem to think clothing optional beaches are the root cause of all evil on earth!! Some of the comments are outlandish to say the least, just check some of the dissenting comments on last weeks article!!
But what is the real problem here? Is it really the fact that people are stripping off? Surely not – anyone who has visited a clothed beach these days has probably noticed how little there is in the way of clothing!! The real problem is that ALL beaches have a variety of problems, and ALL beaches require a combination of council, police and community cooperation to ensure a safe environment everyone can enjoy! But it’s hard to get that approach working effectively, or quickly – so the knee-jerk reaction is always the easy option. It’s important to remember that Victoria’s legal beaches are Clothing Optional, not “nude mandatory” – the nudist community is interested in a friendly and safe beach, definitely not to the exclusion of clothed users.
And here is the real kicker, for those of you that are new to these discussions – the “issues” that are constantly being cited as justification to close the CO beaches are not related to the beach itself!!. Beaches all along our coasts generally suffer from 2 issues – inappropriate behaviour in the carparks and toilets (drinking, cruising, drugs, etc); or inappropriate behaviour in sand dunes (where they exist behind the beaches). Police along the Surf Coast (where Pt Impossible is) noted during workshops held last year that there were exactly zero issues reported to them relating to the designated CO zone. And the Mornington Police noted a similar situation on this side of the bay:
Sgt Webster said few complaints relating to unsavoury behaviour came from the actual nudist beach.
He said they related mainly to behaviour in the toilet block and carpark.
The main challenge for the nudist community is perceptions. Nude does not equal sex. Nude does not equal lewd. Tarnishing nudists with broad generalisations helps no-one, and doesn’t solve any of the real issues!! It is in everyone’s interests to work together towards safe public spaces for everyone. Blaming nudists for inappropriate behaviour (of non-nudists!) in the carpark is akin to blaming a fast food restaurant for the pub brawl that happened next door (facetious perhaps, but you can see the point!).
And to finish:
The council was unable to comment on what it had done since a 2004 report rated Sunnyside beach carpark safety and maintenance a “high priority”.
The report said the council should consider removing or redesigning the toilet block, installing security lighting in the carpark and installing surveillance cameras.
That’s exactly the same path suggested by a coastal study done by Monash University late 2002, titled “Feasibility of Identifying Family Friendly Beaches along Victoria’s Coastline”. The suggestions for eliminating anti-social behaviour in beach carparks included better lighting, access redesigns, and improved facilities with better maintenance. Section 8.10 of the report if you are interested in reading further about the theories of “Crime prevention through environmental design”.
Removing the clothing optional status of Sunnyside will have exactly zero effect in resolving issues that are being experienced in the carparks and toilets. The nudist community will be quite vocal through this process, and has always supported open communication with all stakeholders in order to achieve a positive outcome for all beach users – a lot of data has been collected from the previous experience with the Surf Coast Shire over Pt Impossible, and already the initial observations have a familiar ring to them!
We encourage the council to contact the Australian Nudist Federation (details on the Links page), or drop us an email here so that we can forward contact details to appropriate representatives from the community. The nudist community has a lot of knowledge and experience relating to the beaches, and we will work hard to ensure that the clothing optional status is maintained.
BTW, credit again to Andrea Kellett, it was a good article that covered the facts and presented both sides of the story. As a minority community, fair and unbiased reporting has not always been provided in the past, so we do notice when the media covers all the relevant facts!
Another side note as well – please check out the About and Legal Stuff links – this site is simply an information portal. The official representatives of the nudist community are the Australian Nudist Federation and Free Beaches Australia (and not us, we just keep an eye on activity here in Victoria!)