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Byron Shire
May 19, 2021

More statistics about alcohol and violence

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I want to thank Brian Pearson for his comments about alcohol-related violence in Byron and drawing attention to the statistics that he sees as misinformation and misrepresentation.

I am very happy to see that there has been some downward movement between the statistics on one indicator – alcohol-related non DV assault – for the results in the month of March 2012 and March 2013. I think we need to cautiously review the BOCSAR stats for this crime as the latest data sets also show that while the month of March might be down from 29 to 26, other months in the same comparison, have increased. eg June 2012 and June 2013 went from 16 to 20. So we all need to be careful about what is presented. The stable statistics Brian refers to over the past five year are far higher than we need.

The statistics on a whole range of indicators for Byron Bay – including, but not limited to – the crime statistics show a major problem with alcohol-related harm. Currently the Byron Bay Liquor Accord members are focussed on a limited number of crime statistics, however there are many other stats that should be of concern to anyone raising – or caring – about children, young people and young adults – in our community – or those who visit here.

Here”s the stats that the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) put together as the social profile for Byron LGA in 2009:

The OLGR Social Profile Report for Byron Local Government Area (LGA) identified alcohol abuse amongst teenagers as a major problem on the north coast. Table below indicates key problems

Risky Drinking 16+ age group               Byron = 38.4 per cent          NSW   = 31.9 per cent
High Risk Drinking 16+ age group       Byron = 11 per cent              NSW   = 8.4 per cent
High Risk Drinking males aged 16+     Byron = 15.4 per cent         NSW = 11.3 per cent
High Risk Drinking girls age 12-17       Byron = 5.1 per cent           NSW   = 3.8 per cent
Liquor Licences per head of pop           Byron = 351 per 100,000  NSW = 220 per 100,000
Alcohol-related weekend assaults         Byron = 612 per 100,000 NSW   = 212 per 100,000

Driving under the influence of alcohol stats and crash stats:
At the ILGA community conference in 2012, the staff from Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) presented the following stats:

Drink drivers involved in a crash in Byron LGA for 2007 to 2011:
62 drink drive crashes /100000 population vs 22 for State (2011) – almost three times state average
72 per cent of drivers were from Byron or the 3 adjacent LGAs (Tweed, Lismore, Ballina)
47 per cent of drink drivers recorded a high-range blood alcohol content (ie. >0.15 BAC)
86 per cent of drink drivers recorded 0.08 BAC or greater

Sexual Assault:
We have had higher than the state average for sexual assault rates – which are highly recognized as the most unreported crime. According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) in the Byron Shire there were 34 sexual assaults reported in 2011 or 105 per 100,000 population. This compares to the NSW average of 59.6 per 100,000 population. Almost twice the state average! in 2011.

And yes we already have 3am closure ! So what does that say? The point is that even with 3AM closure we have these problems that is why the group Last Drinks @ 12 have taken their position – we all need to do more to address the issues in Byron – either by restricting alcohol availability further or implementing a range of other measures that have also been proven to be effective – such as reducing the promotion and advertising of alcohol, and looking at the prices of alcohol, providing late night transport, and trying to work on some of the cultural factors associated with binge drinking amongst young people and visitors to Byron.

At Byron Youth Service (BYS) we recognise that the culture of binge drinking and pre-laoding amongst young people is a significant issue that requires addressing. We recognise that this may not be in the control of licensees. However there are some very well established evidence-based strategies documented by professional academics from Australia and around the world showing that reducing the supply of alcohol after midnight can reduce harms by 17 per cent each hour.

In hoping to keep our young people safe, happy and valued within our community, we are committed to working with all the stakeholders to tackle the issue including all our licensees.

Di Mahoney, Byron Youth Service

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  1. I love going to the Buddha Bar as they provide a bus to take you home after having a few drinks.Why can’t the other liquor establishments provide the same service ? Surely this is part of the responsible service of alcohol.

  2. Di (and cheer squad),

    1,500,000 is it? Or is it one million. Let’s go the lower figure, I wouldn’t want to deliberately manipulate and mislead with statistics.

    One million tourist numbers into Byron every year. Have you noticed?

    That would change your stats just a tad would it not? Unless you are suggesting it is just us locals on the sauce supporting the veritable plague of licensed businesses in Byron.

    You guys at ’12 do your cause no favours by cherry picking statistics with such blatant misinformation and contempt for Echo readers.

    As for ‘Di for Mayor’. Well, playing fast and loose with statistics is a KPI for any politician. If that fails I’d say the AVN would give you a gig.

  3. We all know the statistics, they do not make pretty reading. What seems to be in disagreement is how we go about tackling the problem. The “Newcastle Solution” is the one most often held up as the “Silver Bullet” but if you look at the Newcastle Action Plan it involves MUCH more than an earlier close for venues (download it yourself it is available as a pdf from here: http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/138284/Alcohol_Management_Strategy_V2.pdf

    It involves better lighting, more late night transport, more police, safe passage areas, education programs, etc, etc. Not just an earlier close (3AM)

    Currently apart from BUDDI and BYS the alcohol vendors are pretty much the ONLY group that have taken drastic action to combat the issue of late night violence in Byron Bay, and from early stats it is having a positive effect. Council has good intentions, but hasn’t done anything yet due to funding issues. Police seem to lack the resources to increase numbers, nothing else is currently being done.

    Before we kill Byron Bays world famous nightlife (a major attraction for many young visitors) should we try the rest of the suite of measures that had success in the Newcastle Solution? Make no mistake a midnight close WILL kill all of Byron Bays nightclubs (and take us all back to the same curfew that we had as teenagers!)

    Why is it that a few morons always ruin something great for the rest of us. Can we PLEASE find a solution that combats the 0.1% of people that get drunk and punch people, not the 99.9% of young people that go out in Byron Bay and have a great time.

  4. Di, firstly you need to be commended for the tireless work that you do through BYS, however I believe your support of Last Drinks at 12 is misguided and would actually put Byron’s youth at greater risk.

    Presently, youth (18+) are able to go out and enjoy a drink in the REGULATED, SAFE & SECURE confines of licensed premises. Should Last Drinks at 12’s proposals be implemented, all revellers, including Byron’s youth, would be forced onto the streets, the beach, the bush and our residential suburbs to continue their night.

    Is it realistic to think that Byron’s visitors (over 550,000 each year under the age of 34) and locals are going to go home to bed at midnight? Try and think back to when you were that age – midnight is usually just the start of your night!

    The new scenario would see young people, including under-agers that couldn’t previously gain entry to licensed premises, partying unsupervised, without any drink restrictions or any of the protocols currently in place in Byron’s hotels, bars and nightclubs.

    Are Byron’s residents looking forward to having everyone bringing the party back next door to their holiday letting accommodation, long-term rentals and hostels once the bars close at midnight?

    Will Byron’s youth not be MORE at risk for alcohol-related harm, including under-age drinking, binge drinking and sexual assault if they are doing so in an uncontrolled environment? Not to mention the risk of drowning, bush fires and access for emergency services when the party is pushed back onto our beaches, and into the bush & residential community.

  5. Don’t worry about our older folk who built this town ,it would appear that it is only the younger generation that is spoken about in this alcohol violence issue.The preloaders heading into town after 10pm yelling ,is nothing like the noise ,vomit,copulating,shitting and abuse that happens after midnight and it gets worse after closing time at 3am.Not sure why the people in the older parts of Byron Bay have to put up with this ,it would really give me the shits getting woken every night by this,I suppose that is why a lot of our old time locals moved out to Baywood Chase and Byron Hills.Please save our beautiful town.

  6. Geoff where do you think these noisey, vomitting, copulating, shitting and abusing young people are going to go at midnight if Last Drinks at 12 gets it’s way?

    At the moment they are able to enjoy themselves in safe & secure venues until 3am. If the pubs and clubs close at midnight, you won’t be woken by the migration at 3am…you will have a house party next door raging from midnight!


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