The extensive commentary on Byron Bay’s response to alcohol-related problems focuses on solutions well downstream of the source of the problem. Moreover, the problem is defined as ‘alcohol-fuelled violence’. One imagines that this encompass brawling and physical violence. These are a likely consequence of binge drinking – consuming a quantity of alcohol, in a space of time, that results in loss of composure, control and the consequences thereof. The reality for many, however, is that these binges countenance a deeper pain – in sexual violence, domestic violence and longer-term regret.
The local police command, chamber of commerce and the Liquor Accord are advocating strongly for the establishment of CCTV. It may be a modest strategy in monitoring the public violence secondary to binge drinking, yet does little to bring dignity to the individual who is bingeing, or to the victim behind closed doors or in sheltered corners. Where lies the advocacy for more a meaningful social dimension in this discussion, or meaningful consideration of redressing uncurbed foolishness?
One understands the position of the police in wishing to stem violence: they are at the cutting edge of its distasteful might. Yet the Accord and the chamber of commerce have a clear conflict of interest, one that appears to ameliorate meaningful discussion around trading hours, and patron and server responsibility. If we are to cast our gaze even a little ‘upstream’, we might consider the relationship between availability (density of licensed premises, trading hours, compliance with legislated server responsibility) and violence.
We might consider the hypocrisy of those same institutions who call for something to be done about the alcohol-related violence, yet continue to promote its consumption, and provide the subtle excuse that we have responsibility to the tourists that we host. Our mayor stands courageous and should hold her position proudly on this matter: CCTV has a very minor role to play in this drama. The real show is about the industry, about the community fabric that is subject to that industry, and about those who aspire to weave that fabric.
Michael Douglas, Nashua