Byron to hold sex assault summit


THE RAPE of a 19-year-old English backpacker on the beach at Byron Bay on Wednesday has highlighted a 'pattern' of sexual attacks in the town, health experts said yesterday.

The North Coast Area Health Service yesterday warned that young women in Byron Bay were highly vulnerable to being exploited by sexual predators.

An emergency 'interagency' meeting will be held next week on the safety crisis to devise a campaign to encourage female visitors and residents to be mindful of their personal safety and 'challenge the attitude of men which is giving rise to such behaviour'.

"Byron Bay as a tourist/backpacker, schoolies week and international destination creates particular vulnerabilities for young people," a NCAHS spokesperson said.

The casual lifestyle of the town, its young population, large visitor numbers and the town's many licensed premises were contributing factors, leaving young women vulnerable.

Sexual predators were preying on risk-taking youth, a transient population and the ease of access to alcohol and drugs, the NCAHS spokesperson said.

Drink-spiking, movement around town venues and the beach and the 'normalising' of sexual behaviour of young people all added to the problem.