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Sad sign Sydney doesn’t feel safe

BONDI JUCTION
Westfield at Bondi Junction has opened up this morning. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

The Bondi shopping centre where a horrific massacre occurred last week has re-opened for the first time but there is a small sign that the community has changed for good.

Joel Cauchi, 40, killed six people and stabbed 12 more during a murderous rampage at the Bondi Junction shopping centre on Saturday afternoon.

He was later shot dead by police.

Businesses reopened their doors for the first time on Friday, almost a week after the horrific attack, which has rattled the nation.

A feeling of grief was palpable in the air inside Bondi Junction Westfield on Friday morning, as people tentatively made their way into the shopping centre.

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An increased security presence is in place, with guards wearing protective vests and uniformed police making regular patrols as part of a new safety protocols.

One woman on her way into work said she was feeling “heavy” as she walked out of the train station.

BONDI JUCTION
Shoppers return to the centre. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
BONDI JUNCTION COMMUNITY REFLECTION DAY
Floral tributes outside of Bondi Junction Westfield on Thursday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

“I just feel so heavy,” she said, her voice shaking and adding that it was her first day back at work since the incident.

Ray and Carmen were at the centre on the day of the attack and took a moment to reflect at the front doors.

“It feels strange to be going about our lives in a place where this happened,” Ray said in a sombre tone.

“We were just down there when it happened,” he said, pointing to the Chemist Warehouse.

“I don’t have words to say how I feel,” Carmen said.

The pair agreed they “still feel safe” being at the shopping centre, but said there is a “different energy” as shoppers go about their business.

BONDI JUCTION
Jan Erenstrom said she felt a “strange” feeling as she walked towards the shopping centre. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

Jan Erenstrom agreed it was “strange” to be back, and said there was a “feeling that came over” her when she left the station and approached the centre.

“It’s awful, really upsetting actually,” she said.

“I was just walking up the stairs thinking how terrible it would have been to have him coming towards you with a big hunting knife.

“That would have been so frightening.”

Staff are wearing black ribbons in honour of the 18 victims of the attack - including Westfield security guards Faraz Tahir who lost his life and Muhammad Taha who was seriously injured.

“Everyone’s talking about the same thing, everyone’s a bit afraid,” Kundanyadav - who works inside the centre - said.

BONDI JUCTION
Maureen Matthews said she doesn’t know how to mend a broken heart. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
BONDI JUCTION
Tracey Greenberg works at the hospital and said she had been putting off returning. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
BONDI JUCTION
Lorraine Sharpe said she was feeling sombre. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

Maureen Matthews has been a resident for 75 years, she said her “heart is broken” returning to the shopping centre on Friday.

“I don’t know how to mend a broken heart,” she said.

“But we will come back together as we always do.”

Tracey Greenberg works at one of the hospitals where victims of the attack were taken for treatment.

“I’ve been putting off coming here,” she said.

Looking at the hundreds of flowers placed in memorial, the sweet smell filling the air, she was overcome with emotion.

“It’s overwhelming being here, I think it will simmer down eventually but it’s different now,” she said.

Lorraine Sharpe came to the centre with her partner for an appointment and went to pay her respects and leave some flowers at the memorial.

“It’s quite moving, very sombre and very sad,” she said.

“Sick in his stomach”: Salon owner scared to return

Hair salon owner Bill Mohana said he felt “sick in his stomach” about returning to work but he had to do it.

Bill Mohana speaks as centre opens. Picture Today.JPG
Hair salon owner Bill Mohana (right) says he feels sick about returning to work. Picture: Today

“I’m very nervous and actually I feel a bit sick in the stomach and I’m still a bit terrified, to be honest,” he told Today.

“I’m not really trusting going back in there, but I kind of have to do it, I guess.”

Mr Mohana ushered customers into the back store room of the hair salon as the screams of shoppers echoed through the centre and Cauchi continued his attack.

“All morning, I’ve been picturing what I have to do, I’ve got to walk past where the bodies lay, up the escalator, then go to the salon,” he said.
“I’m going to be sitting there in the salon remembering everything that happened.

“I actually don’t want to go back in, I wish I didn’t have to go back in.”

SDA NSW union secretary Bernie Smith has warned shoppers to be mindful of the way they interact with staff, urging them to be sensitive to the trauma many workers have experienced.

A memorial has been set up inside of the shopping centre. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dion Georgopoulos
A memorial has been set up inside of the shopping centre. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dion Georgopoulos
Flowers outside a store. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dion Georgopoulos
Flowers outside a store. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dion Georgopoulos

“It’s going to be a pretty confronting day for many people,” he told the ABC.

“If you are in those shops sure, you should acknowledge what’s happened, but don’t re-traumatise workers by asking them what happened on that day.”

The centre opened its doors on Thursday for a “community reflection day” during which businesses were not able to open for trade.
Counselling was being offered at the site to provide support to the public and staff before normal trading hours resume on Friday.

Community members attended the centre for a day of reflection. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dion Georgopoulos
Community members attended the centre for a day of reflection. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dion Georgopoulos
BONDI JUNCTION COMMUNITY REFLECTION DAY
Floral tributes outside of Bondi Junction Westfield on Thursday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

Scentre group chief executive Elliott Rusanow said some stores would choose not to reopen.

“This has been a very difficult time and I want to acknowledge the hard work and tireless efforts of our Westfield Bondi and Scentre Group teams,” he said.

“They have been working through conditions which have been devastating in their minds and in all our minds.”

Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos said the opening would be “confronting” but “significant” for the healing journey of victims and the community.

PREMIER PRESS CONFERENCE
NSW Premier Chris Minns provides an update following the Bondi Massacre. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper

“I know it’s going to be very powerful. It’s going to be confronting, it’s going to be emotional. But I really think it is going to be very significant,” she told the Today Show on Thursday morning.

A mountain of bouquets have been left in tribute to the victims outside the centre, with the government confirming a permanent memorial will be erected in the months to come.

A candlelit vigil is due to be held near the Bondi Pavillion at 5.30pm on Sunday.