Volunteers taking part in LGBTI community initiative Fair Play will help partygoers understand their legal rights and stay safe during the Mardi Gras season for its fifth year.

With huge numbers and lots of excitement expected for the 40th Mardi Gras celebration, Fair Play will have extra volunteers outside the parade after-party on Saturday 3 March.

The volunteers will be armed with referral information and video cameras, recording police interactions and booking free legal advice appointments for those who need them.

Fair Play is an initiative of the Inner City Legal Centre in partnership with ACON and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Since it was established in 2014 there have been no serious complaints about police at the after-party, and drug operations have been conducted without incident.

“Fair Play works so well because the Fair Play team work with NSW Police to come to an agreement about how we can best support the community at the Mardi Gras party,” said Vicki Harding, director of the Inner City Legal Centre.

“Police need to do their job and enforce the law, and drug dogs are currently present at all large parties in Sydney. Fair Play aims to ensure that partygoers are respected by police and in turn that anyone who has an incident on the night is supported to find a resolution.”

Volunteers can be identified by their bright t-shirts on the party night and at Fair Day.

Up-to-date legal information about keeping safe, police powers, drug searches, sniffer dogs and complaint procedures is available online.

International and interstate visitors are reminded to consider local laws before celebrating on March 3.

Hilary Kincaid, principal solicitor at the Inner City Legal Centre, said everyone must remember that “all prohibited drugs are equally prohibited, there is no ‘safe’ amount and there is no risk-free way to possess prohibited drugs”.

Terese Casu, CEO of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, welcomed the return of the initiative.

“We’re very happy to have Fair Play continue with the festival again in 2018,” she said.

“Fair Play is an important initiative, designed to ensure members of our communities, as well as the thousands of visitors who come to Sydney for Mardi Gras each year, have the necessary information and support to ensure they have the best possible Mardi Gras experience.”

Nic Parkhill, CEO of community health group ACON, said Fair Play makes an important contribution to community safety.

“Fair Play provides ACON and our partner community organisations with a vital opportunity to educate the communities we serve on a range of issues, from legal rights and responsibilities, to safety and wellbeing,” he said.

“I’d like to commend the NSW Police’s efforts in seeing that this program can operate successfully, resulting in a decline in the number of arrests during the period. This is a community-led response that seeks to keep partygoers informed and safe, and we’re proud to be a part of this great initiative.”

Fair Play is now seeking volunteers for the 2018 Mardi Gras season.

More information about Fair Play is available from their website or Facebook.

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