Australia’s leading alcohol research and education body has repeated its calls for alcohol reform, on the eve of a community forum to discuss street violence in Sydney.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has warned that calls for improved public transport and greater CCTV surveillance fail to address the issue that alcohol, and not the individuals consuming it, is at the heart of the problem.
FARE Chief Executive, Michael Thorn says that in the wake of last week’s unprovoked assault of Thomas Kelly, what is most needed now is strong political leadership.
“There’s a time for talking and a time for action. We know that reducing the availability and supply of alcohol is the most effective and cost saving measure to reduce alcohol-related violence.”
“One only has to look at Newcastle where 3am closing times led to a 35 per cent reduction in after dark assaults to see how successful such an approach can be. At this point it is clear that the only barriers to reform are the politicians themselves,” Mr Thorn said.
Michael Thorn’s call has been echoed by Mr Tony Brown, a long-standing advocate for the prevention of alcohol related violence in Newcastle. Mr Brown, Chair of the Newcastle Community Drug Action Team, stresses that we must focus on the root cause of the problem.
“The alcohol industry would have us happily consider more trains, more taxis and more cameras; any option that distracts our attention from the simple fact that alcohol availability is a major cause of the problem.”
“There are over 2200 licenced premises within the City of Sydney, but that’s still not enough for an industry determined to push more alcohol on every corner,” Mr Brown said.
Mr Brown says Kings Cross is not alone among Australian cities and towns with similar alcohol-related problems, and points out that it is important to acknowledge that alcohol-related crime is only half of the story.
“Notwithstanding the tragedy of last week’s events, it is also important to acknowledge that more young people suffer greater death, self-injury and misadventure from the dangerous oversupply of alcohol than violent criminal events,” Mr Brown said.
FARE has called for the immediate introduction of a 12-month trial across NSW that would see reduced trading hours and lockouts modelled on the Newcastle example, a proposal that has the full backing of Last Drinks, the NSW coalition of police officers, doctors, nurses and ambulance officers dealing with alcohol related violence in the course of their duty.
“Introduce a 12-month trial, let’s evaluate this approach and see what happens. NSW authorities must not compound the tragic events of last week by sitting on their hands, refusing to act when they have at their disposal, cost-effective, proven measures that could be easily implemented tomorrow,” Mr Thorn said.
Michael Thorn is available for interview.
Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson 0425 559 710
Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE)
FARE is an independent, charitable organisation working to prevent the harmful use of alcohol in Australia. Since 2001, the FARE has invested over $115 million in research and community projects to minimise the impact of alcohol misuse on Australians. Through our national grants program and commissioned research, FARE has established itself as a leading voice on alcohol and other drugs issues. We work with community groups, all levels of government, police, emergency workers, research institutions and the private sector to address alcohol-related problems. For further information visit our website: www.fare.org.au