Dr Graham Truswell, Byron Bay
After Byron was trashed last New Year, the community met three times at the Community Centre. The number one problem discussed was the alcohol-related violence and antisocial behaviour.
NYE was no one-off. Byron Bay CBD now has the third-highest alcohol-related violence in NSW after Kings Cross and Sydney CBD. Eighty-one per cent of all assaults in Byron are alcohol related, compared to the state average of 41 per cent. Drink driving rates are three times the state average and sexual assault is twice the state average. In 2012, police provided many extra man hours, but the problem got worse.
CCTV cameras installed in numerous communities worldwide have done nothing to stop violence. Police and the medical profession do not see drugs exacerbating the problem; the alcohol problem is an alcohol problem.
One community in Australia, Newcastle, has managed to reduce alcohol violence. We can adopt similar measures and make changes to the culture in Byron, too.
All those in the community who want to join us and support the reduction of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour please come on August 24 to the Community Centre in Byron between 2pm and 4pm. The meeting will have national experts in the medical field, in policing and the expert who managed to bring about change in Newcastle speaking. Representatives from youth groups, local experts and politicians will be present.
We will present a raft of measures to the community, measures we are convinced will reverse the downward trend of our town being taken over after-hours by alcohol-fuelled aggression. We have a great history in Byron of standing up to issues that are contrary to the interest of our community; we need to do it again. Our nurses, doctors, police and ambulance officers and all involved have had enough. It is now time for us to act. Please get involved.
Dr Truswell is a member of Byron community group ‘Last Drinks At 12’.