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.
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.’