Lisa Apostolides, director, Byron Youth Theatre in Education
When I read Colin Clarke’s letter [regarding Dan Murphy’s in Byron Bay] I felt concerned because a need for understanding has not been met. Colin, I appreciate your comparison to France and was glad that you acknowledge that they too have a problem with binge drinking but ‘probably less’ is not accurate. Also the logic that you refer to about having more outlets making things worse has in fact been the focus of a study by Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation: How Alcohol Outlets Affect Neighbourhood Violence. This study shows evidence that the higher the density of alcohol outlets results in higher rate of violence and strongly recommends that limiting outlet density may be an effective means of reducing alcohol problems, especially violence.
Let us concern ourselves with Byron Bay. As the director of the Byron Youth Theatre (BYT) Company I have had the pleasure of working with many young people from the area, including Hayley [the 15-year-old girl who Echonetdaily reported gave a moving speech to the Dan Murphy’s inquiry].
We have devised and delivered two interactive theatre pieces, performing 11 times in local high schools and community events, focusing on binge drinking. We have talked with over 800 students and heard directly about the drinking habits of young people in Byron Shire and the influence of outlets, nightclubs, community members, parents, backpackers and tourists have on them. We focus and foster a positive attitude in young people in gaining awareness and understanding of how alcohol affects their overall development. We avoid finger pointing and blaming and recognise that young people will want to – and do – experiment and go out socially without parent supervision, yes, even aged 15. We deal with reality and we encourage adults in the community to be responsible and join in all our efforts to create a safer, more aware and compassionate place to live.
Please know directly from BYT that we ask for no more alcohol outlets be allowed into Byron, regardless of who they are owned by.