Tackling alcohol-fuelled violence

For frontline emergency workers such as nurses, doctors, paramedics and police, dealing with alcohol-fuelled aggression is part of the job.

A recent poll, commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, found that a significant number of Australians drink to excess, with more than four million people reporting drinking alcohol to get drunk and more than two million doing so at least once a month. The majority of those polled, 76%, believed that Australia has a problem with excess drinking or alcohol abuse.

The NSWNA has joined with four other organisations representing emergency service workers in NSW to form the Last Drinks campaign to tackle the issue of alcohol-fuelled violence head-on.

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes says there is a common belief between the unions representing emergency workers that the most effective way to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence is by placing restrictions on the late night sale of alcohol.

Brett said a recent NSW Health study showed a more than 35% decrease in the number of night-time assaults, after restrictions were placed on licensed venues in the Newcastle CBD.

“There has also been a 50% decrease in the night-time street offences in Newcastle. These improvements have been sustained over a three-year period. It has worked well in Newcastle and it is worth trying elsewhere,” he said.

The restrictions at Newcastle included:

— 3am closing for all venues.

— Lock-outs from 1.30am.

— Restrictions on the sale of high-alcohol content drinks (such as shots) after 10pm.

These measures have strong public support, according to a poll taken by Essential Research. The national poll found that 80% of Australians support mandatory 3am closing times for licensed premises to curb alcohol-fuelled violence. This figure rose to 85% of people in New South Wales.

“This indicates a very high level of community support for the objectives of the Last Drinks campaign,” Brett said. The latest annual poll of alcohol attitudes and behaviors, released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, found:36% of drinkers (or about 4.1 million Australians) consume alcohol to get drunk. 61% of 18 to 29 year olds who consume alcohol do so to get drunk.31% of Australians have been affected by alcohol-related violence, including 14% who have been the victim of alcohol-related violence.16% of Australian drinkers have had someone they know express concern over their drinking.

75% of Australians believe that more needs to be done to reduce the harm caused by alcohol-related illness, injury, death, and related issues.

The Last Drinks campaign aims to tackle the issue of alcohol-fuelled violence head-on. For more information about the Last Drinks campaign visit lastdrinks.org.au