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
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