Dr David Moss, Byron Bay
I would like to add my name to the growing list of Byron residents demanding a safer, less intoxicated late-night environment in the Byron Bay CBD.
The scale and level of late-night intoxication in the Byron Bay CBD is extraordinary. If anyone still doubts this I suggest you sit on Jonson Street this Saturday night at around 2am and simply observe it. You will be shocked. Frontline police have been repeatedly warning the community that the situation is out of control and that Byron Bay CBD after midnight is a very drunk and a bloody unsafe place to be, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.
The key issue here is the level of late-night intoxication. The risk of being a victim of violence, sexual assault and injury in late-night Byron Bay CBD increases with the levels of intoxication of those on the street.
Nobody from Last Drinks seems to be suggesting the town not remain a vibrant attractive place to come late at night. On the contrary, what the community is demanding, as it has demanded many times, is a safe and secure CBD in the late evening and early morning. Again, the single most important issue is a reduction in the level of intoxication, as the police are overwhelmed. If this can be achieved Byron Bay will be a far better and safer late-night town, especially for our young residents and visitors. The evidence from the excellent Newcastle intervention is that hotel and nightclub owners, who got on board and altered their business, did very well. The evidence also is that the drinking behaviour of young people in that area quickly modified.
I think it timely also to remind ourselves that licensees, under the NSW liquor laws, have an obligation to ‘ensure that patrons do not become intoxicated’. Further, the stated objectives of the Liquor Act 2007 are: (i) to minimise harm associated with misuse and abuse of liquor; (ii) to encourage responsible attitudes and practices towards consumption of alcohol; (iii) to ensure that the sale, supply and consumption of liquor contributes to and does not detract from, the amenity of community life.
Byron Bay has many excellent, well-run venues, and like many residents in town, I give them my business regularly. I urge the venue owners to get behind the community on this issue and heed the warnings from the frontline workers who see the carnage that occurs while the rest of us are tucked up in bed. The police deserve and need a strong show of support.