Stakeholders have called for a major shake-up of laws in a bid to curb alcohol-related violence in regional areas.
NSW-ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance’s spokesperson Tony Brown said regional communities, such as Wagga, experience disproportionate levels of alcohol harm and the government needs to instigate change.
NAAPA’s policy document cited Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data that showed alcohol-related domestic assaults were up to 12.1 times higher in regional and remote NSW than in major cities.
It also quoted the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare research that found 23 per cent of drinkers in these areas exceeded the lifetime alcohol risk guidelines – compared with 16 per cent in metropolitan areas.
David Barnhill, secretary of the Wagga Liquor Accord and the owner of the William Farrer Hotel, said in response to claims laws should crack down on alcohol-related violence, that the city’s rules could not get any tougher.
Currently, measures in place include a 1.30am lockout each night, a ban on serving shots after midnight, no mixed alcohol and energy drinks after 1.30am and one drink per person after 2.30am.
“I don’t think we can come down any harsher,” Mr Barnhill said.
“I don’t think we can come down any harsher."David Barnhill
“I don’t think the lockout does anything much to help, but the barred from one, barred from all policy does a lot.
“That is a massive reducer in terms of liquor-related issues.”
Mr Brown said emergency workers, health staff and families should be the highest priority in the March election and he believes the balance is shifted towards the alcohol industries' profits.
“Our young people in Wagga should be able to go out without getting their head punched in,” he said.
Wagga state MP Joe McGirr said he sees alcohol-fuelled issues as part of a larger puzzle, rather than a priority issue on its own.
“I think the actions taken in Wagga over the last decade have been very strong and have been ahead of the game and I think for our region they are a model of what should be done,” he said.
“I think they have seen a reduction and I want to be convinced that what’s being suggested adds anything to what has been done already.”
Dr McGirr said alcohol violence forms part of the issues surrounding community safety.
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