Amid growing concern that the NSW Government may buckle to industry pressure, the NSW ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA) has today called on the Acting Premier Troy Grant to give an unqualified assurance that he will not reverse the successful life-saving measures introduced in Sydney to prevent alcohol-related violence.
With the State Election fast approaching in March, the State’s leading coalition of health professionals, emergency and law enforcement services, community members and researchers is calling on the NSW Government to reaffirm its commitment to reducing alcohol harms by maintaining the measures introduced in Sydney’s CBD precinct and passed through the Parliament on 30 January 2014.
NAAPA spokesperson, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education Chief Executive, Michael Thorn commended the NSW Government for their strong leadership in 2014 but warned against taking backwards steps.
“The NSW Government is on the right track when it comes to the prevention and reduction of the State’s heavy alcohol toll. The measures are working. After the tragic events in Sydney last summer, we have repeatedly heard from the community, police and health services that they are experiencing significant reductions in alcohol harms and increases in community amenity,” said Mr Thorn.
In January 2014 the NSW Government announced a package of major alcohol policy reforms in response to alcohol-related violence and the deaths of Daniel Christie and Thomas Kelly. The measures included 3am last drinks and 1:30am lockouts in the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD precincts, a state-wide 10pm closing time for bottle shops, a ban on high risk liquor promotions, and annual risk-based licensing fee for all liquor outlets.
Since the introduction of these policies last February, the staff at St Vincent’s Hospital have seen a reduction in the volume and severity of alcohol-related trauma presentations.
“Our experience of the last 11 months tells us that the lockout laws are working to significantly reduce alcohol-related violence,” said Toby Hall, Chief Executive Officer St Vincent’s Health Australia.
“Overall, the number of serious assaults requiring admission to our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is dramatically down since February 2014. On New Year’s Eve, emergency staff said patients were less intoxicated, less aggressive and more co-operative, with not a single person admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and with far fewer admissions due to serious assaults.”
Police and community members have also seen similar benefits as a result of the policy measures. NSW Police reported that they were seeing a drop in assaults in the area since the lockout laws were introduced.
“We’re two and a half months out from the NSW State Election and now is the time for politicians to show voters what they will do if elected to address alcohol-related harms. The Government should be committing to an evidence-based state-wide plan of action and finishing the job that was started last January, but instead, by bringing forward the review of the measures, the Government is buckling to industry pressure at the expense of the people of NSW,” Mr Thorn said.
Mr Thorn (@MichaelTThorn) is available for interview.
Jeremy Henderson – 0425 559 710
Amy Smith – 0422 385 240