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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Group wants Byron bars to close at midnight

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A new community group has emerged as a result of the community meetings held after last year’s NYE and will be holding a presentation on alcohol-related crime on August 24 at the Byron Community Centre.

The group, Last Drinks At 12, comprises around ten professionals with medical, legal, media, business and youth backgrounds. They say they are aiming to adopt measures that helped Newcastle reduce its alcohol-related crime.

Its spokesperson is Bangalow GP, Dr Graham Truswell, who is also VMO at Byron Bay Hospital.

He told Echonetdaily the group was inspired by Tony Brown who voluntarily led a community team in Newcastle to reduce alcohol-related harm and street crime based on a modest reduction in late trading hours.

Dr Truswell says, ‘Tony is actually a local resident having owned a property in Byron Shire for 20 years’.

The group’s main agenda, he says, is for all liquor outlets in Byron Shire to cease the sale of alcohol at midnight.

‘This is, from international evidence, the most effective measure to reduce alcohol-related antisocial behaviour in public settings. As well as that we propose a number of other measures to reinforce the aim of changing the culture and pattern of Byron being used as a venue for youth binge drinking, alcohol-related violence, antisocial behaviour, alcohol-related social harm and sexual assault. We hope a reduction in drink driving will be a consequence.

‘We welcome the collaboration of the local alcohol industry if they wish to embrace real community inclusiveness and an immediate switch to enforceable alcohol harm-prevention measures that are known to work.’

Mr Truswell added, ‘We feel that by making these changes for Byron, other communities will be able to undertake similar campaigns’.

Speakers for the August 24 event include Dr Michael Gliksman (Australian Medical Association), Tony Brown (helped curb alcohol-related violence in Newcastle), Detective Senior Constable Tony King and Dr Anthony Lynham (faciomaxillary surgeon at Royal Brisbane Hospital). It will be chaired by Mick O’Regan.

Accord responds

However Byron Bay Liquor Accord’s chairperson, Hannah Spalding, told Echonetdaily that many of the measures that the Accord has taken are equal to that of Newcastle and Kings Cross. ‘Some of the measures adopted by Byron Bay’s Liquor Accord are stricter than those of Newcastle as they are adopted not just on weekends but all week.’

Mrs Spalding says she approached a Last Drinks At 12 representative at the recent Accord meeting, ‘and advised that I would be happy to meet with them to discuss their issues at any time. I have yet to be contacted by them to discuss their concerns.’

Mrs Spalding says at a recent Accord meeting, the superintendent of Tweed/Byron LAC said that initial signs were that the Accord’s measures had reduced alcohol-related harm.

‘Byron Bay local licensees are part of the solution to the issues in Byron Bay and they have shown that they are dedicated to change by voluntarily offering up similar, if not stronger conditions, to cities such as Newcastle, who were forced into the measures that have been implemented in their city.’

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  1. LOL Hannah, the key measure that resulted in unprecedented and disproportionate reductions in alcohol related harms and costs in Newcastle associated with pubs and clubs loading up bingers to 5am, was a very modest evidence-based reduction in late trading to 3am. By the way, the pubs themselves ultimately agreed to a 3.30am closing to settle their court appeal.

    This is what makes the local Byron community’s push for “last drinks at 12” (from 3am) by far, the most convincing and compelling.

    None of the OLGR new voluntary conditions for Byron (developed with no genuine community input) can be accurately or fairly described as “strict” or “tough”. They are firstly completely unenforceable (unlike Newcastle), secondly, do not involve any meaningful reduction in the dangerous levels of grog supplied to the accord’s collective patrons after midnight – to reduce intoxication (the catalyst for violence) and finally, avoid any reduction in hours – the independently established single and simple most effective measure to prevent alcohol related harms in the public context.

    If the Byron liquor accord and OLGR assert the so called “strict” conditions are working, how do you explain the recent outbreak of ugly alcohol fuelled violence in Byron and examples of ongoing non-compliance of even the “voluntary” conditions by some operators? – Oh I forget, “it was the outbreak of warm weather” 9 July 2013 http://echonetdaily.echo.net.au/orgy-of-violence-in-byron-bay/

    I really encourage the Liquor Accord and OLGR to collaborate with the community as advocated by Dr Truswell on behalf of “12” and give effect to the key objects of the NSW Liquor Act (currently under review) being “alcohol harm minimisation” and that the outcomes (genuinely) reflect the “aspirations and expectations of the community”.

    Public safety must be put before pub profits. This must be resolved in Byron before the “outbreak” of summer 2013/14.

  2. It’s good to see an attempt to address the issues caused by ever-later opening hours. It’s not as though a midnight closure is likely to reduce total spending on alcohol.
    Other factors to consider are the over-abundance of bottle shops, also with long opening hours, and the need to encourage use of courtesy buses to get people home; Byron is an ideal size for efficient use of courtesy buses.

  3. It must be so much fun staying out till the wee hours of the morning drinking alcohol and energy drinks ,to then go home with an empty wallet and sleep most of the day .Surely our business owners would prefer to have our young tourists spending more money during the day on activities that will lessen the violence that mainly occurs after midnight.I think everyone from our community should spend a Friday or Saturday night at either the hospital or police station to see what happens after midnight in our town.What are the main news articles about Byron Bay in the city papers and TV these days? “Alcohol violence”. What better way to deter good tourists and attract bad tourists!!

  4. This is a great initiative. The evidence is clear – this will curb late-night violence in town. The accord’s tinkering-at-the-edges hasn’t gone nearly far enough. It will have an added bonus of going someway to dispel the party-town image so we can properly reclaim the town for residents.


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