An alliance with the objective to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm has called Dubbo’s high rate of alcohol related assault as “completely unacceptable.”
This outcry from the NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA), was announced the same day they called on the NSW Government to introduce earlier closing times at licensed premises in major regional centres, including Dubbo, to help stamp out alcohol related assault and motor vehicle accidents.
NAAPA is a group of health, community, emergency services and research organisations formed with the objective of promoting evidence-based actions to prevent and reduce acute and chronic alcohol-related harms.
According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), in Dubbo there was a total of 49 alcohol related assault (non-domestic assault) occurring during weekends, at nights, on Licensed premises from October 2016 to September 2018.
The rate of those incidences in 2018 (48.3 per 100,00 population) is almost double the rate (28.6 per 100,000 population) of NSW.
NAAPA spokesperson Tony Brown said they argue Dubbo’s rate is “completely unacceptable” in terms of personal safety, but also the costs to the community terms of police, hospital and ambulances.
Mr Brown said there is a correlation between late trading (post midnight) pubs and violence and that the solution was staring us “right in the face.”
“What shows to work, in terms of life and cost saving, has been modest reduction in late trading hours,” he said.
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Mr Brown said NAAPA would like all parties of the NSW Government to reprioritise as part of the election agenda, public and emergency worker safety.
“Our elected representatives are the custodians of the public interest and the association is calling upon all elected representatives to put as a first priority the public interest safety and health and also that of our brave front line emergency workers,” he said.
“We need much more effective regulation on the alcohol industry, it’s exerting too much undue influence.”
Mr Brown said the NSW Government’s ‘earlier last drinks’ and ‘one-way door’ measures introduced in 2014 have been powerful and effective in reducing harms in prominent nightlife precincts in Sydney and Newcastle,” he said.
NAAPA states communities in regional, rural and remote NSW should not be deprived of similar measures proven to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Dubbo MP Troy Grant said some areas have developed local liquor accords to manage these issues, which can, at times, be stricter than similar metropolitan strategies.
“Such accords include a range of approaches, including mitigation measures at licensed premises as well as education and awareness campaigns to promote the safe consumption of alcohol,” Mr Grant said.
In November 2018, it was revealed that Dubbo’s Amaroo Hotel had been named as one of the states’ violent venues on the latest NSW Government’s list.
The Amaroo Hotel was listed fourth on the level two category with 15 violent incidents recorded.
The half-yearly list ranks venues according to violent incidents recorded in a 12-month period. Venues are added to the list if they have 12 or more incidents.
At the time of the list’s release, The Amaroo was subject to strict conditions in an effort to curb alcohol-related violence.
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If a licensed premises on the NSW Government’s violent pub list closes at 4am, they should have one hour reduction in their late trading hours, Mr Brown said.
“Research from Newcastle (University) and around the world shows that from every one hour reduction in late trading, we can anticipate about 15 per cent reduction in assaults,” he said.
“And if it doesn’t improve in six months we keep going back one hour until they go back to 12am trading.”
Mr Brown said research has shown that the 1am lockout rule isn’t as effective as the hour reduction.
“It doesn’t address intoxication,” he said. “The more drunk people are the more stupid things they do and they still drive…
“And the big killer in rural NSW is motor vehicle accidents, where alcohol is a factor in 85 per cent of crash fatalities compared to 17 per cent in major cities.”