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AFTER  DARK  

SCENES  IN  THE  GARDENS

MR  JUDKINS’S  EXPERIENCES

       At the third conference held by the council of the Social Reform Bureau, at the Assembly-hall, Collins-street, yesterday afternoon, Mr WH Judkins dealt with some of the outstanding features of night life in Melbourne. The Rev AR Edgar presided over the meeting, which was well attended.
    Mr Judkins, in the course of his address, said:- “The question which engages our attention in not a pleasant thing to discuss.  It is the last thing any decent-minded man cares to speak about, but there are certain evils existing in our midst which should be brought before the minds of men in this community who, if the liked, could do away with them. The facilities for wrongdoing are tremendous.  Houses of ill-repute are scattered all over Melbourne.  Yet there is no attempt on the part of Government to clear them out.  Legislation exists to enable them to do it.  Take Sydney, for instance. Sydney is a clean city now compared with what it was a few years ago,  due entirely to the possession of an energetic superintendent of police.  It is not legal to keep an immoral house, yet hundreds exist.  I am talking of things I have seen.  The present Government seems to think that if a reputable citizen speaks of anything he has seen it is sufficient if someone else says he does not think such a thing exists to  induce it to do nothing.  On Sunday night fortnight, after doing some private detective work in connection with the gambling dens (work no private citizen should be asked or forced to do for himself, it is a thing which a policeman of average intelligence should be able to find out) I went through two small sections of our public parks.  Those sections were chosen by a friend and myself at random.  The first was about half the length of the block between Exhibition and Russell streets.  We went in at a  gate from the roadway, and there on a little green spot, about the same size as this church, were 30 couples, taking  no more notice of  passer-by than if they did not exist.  (Cries of “Shame!”  and  “Awful!”)  At  another place in  a park not much bigger, if we saw one we saw one hundred couples.  I was going to say they were shop girls, but I do not wish to hurt the feelings of any one class.  They were girls you might sit beside in the train, and imagine they were your own daughters.  You  might have received them in you own houses.  And, as they leave early, they might be home again by 9 or 10 o’clock, and their parents never have their suspicions raised.  To get at the real state of things, you only have to multiply those small areas we visited by the total areas of the city parks.  All the Premier would say when told of the existence of such things was that he hoped the statement did not apply to the whole of Melbourne.  If the police will only arrest a few of the couples they see in the parks on charges of indecent behaviour, our public gardens would soon be cleared.  Surely it is not right for people to be allowed to do at night what it would be wrong to do in the daytime.  Such apathy as has been shown by the authorities ought to be enough to warrant the overthrow of a government.  All the parks and gardens should be thoroughly lighted.  I understand that when Mrs Strong, the wife of Rev. Dr. Strong, bought this question before a high civic official, the only reply she got was that it would cost too much.  I do not think the parks should be closed.  It made my heart stand still to read Dr Mackillucuddy’s evidence, reported in this mornings papers, that 200 cases of a certain kind come under his notice in a years practice.  I have not overstated the case as regards facts, and again as regards education I should like to see proper information imparted to scholars by their parents, and in the state schools by educated men and women with big hearts.
    The following motion was moved by Mr Judkins, and seconded by the Rev JH Cain, of the central mission, who strongly advocated seeking the assistance of the Premier (Mr Murray):-
    “This conference urges the Government to enforce the law with regard to indecent practices in our parks and gardens.”
    “It also urges those responsible for the supervision of our parks and gardens to light them at night so thoroughly that persons may not find opportunity for immorality.”
    “That a deputation wait upon the Premier and the Lord Mayor at the earliest moment to urge them to take effective action forthwith.”
    After the president and the Revs Percy Knight, J Sinclair, T Neilson, R Ditterich, Worrall and all others had spoken to the motion, it was carried unanimously.
 

From   THE  ARGUS   23rd August  1910    page 8

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