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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Teens safe in Byron venues

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As a hospitality professional of 15 years, I can safely say there is no venue more regulated than a late-night trader in Byron Bay. As a mother of two and resident, there is nowhere I’d rather see the young adults of this town.

The young people have two choices on their night out in Byron. They can enter a venue, having been checked for valid ID and assessed for intoxication prior to entry. Once inside they will be served according to strict requirements. Or they can wander down a pitch black street until they reach a darkened beach or park. Here they can skoll a bottle of vodka until they pass out, congregating en masse and unmonitored.

If venues close at midnight, the young people of Byron have only one choice, and there is nothing positive about it.

Amber Jones, Byron Bay


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  1. Young people have far greater choices about what to do with their evenings. You seem to think the only options they seek are to get drunk. Obviously your 15 years in the hospitality business (aiding them in this behaviour?) has given you a very jaundiced view. Nearly all the under 25 year olds I know around Byron Bay do not go drinking as their regular entertainment.

  2. I fully agree Andrew. Amber can think of nowhere she’d rather see young adults in this town. Why is it that the drinking culture of this area has become so entrenched and all pervasive that a mother can think of nowhere better for her kids and the other young adults of Byron Bay to entertain themselves than in a late night club in town? It’s a sad indictment of the drinking culture that those who choose this way to have fun, can think of no alternative.

    According to Amber, they apparently only have 2 choices. To enter a club where their ID and level of intoxication is checked, or be on the streets. How does checking I.D. have any bearing on reducing violence? If someone who is intoxicated and disinhibited decides they want to take a dislike to someone else, pick on them inside a club and continue out on the street, why would taking their ID stop them? It might, like CCTV assist in identifying them after the fact. Security guards will tell you they can’t stop patrons entering who have just drunk 3 JD’s in the car park. You most certainly can enter a club drunk.

    And apparently once inside, they will be sold alcohol according to ‘strict requirements’. We know that is untrue. Weeks after La La Land signed the voluntary Byron Liquor Accord agreement, they were found to be in breach on 5 different counts of breaking those ‘strict requirements’. They got a slap on the wrist.

    Or, Amber’s letter continues, on the streets, they can wander down a dark street and pass out under the influence of a bottle of vodka. Most parents of young people would feel they had not been a great success as a parent and role model if their kids chose this option.

    Stopping the sale of alcohol in Byron at midnight passes on the message that binge drinking is not healthy, late night drinking is heavily linked to violence, antisocial behaviour, sexual assault, drink driving and the abuse of town by locals and outsiders. It sends the message to those who choose to come to Byron, to drink and fight, that they’re not wanted. A permissive society has its limits. There comes a point where a community is able to say, ‘We don’t want this, we don’t like what the late night drinking culture is doing to our town.’ This occurred in Feb and March at the meetings at the Community Centre, when those there identified the alcohol problem as the number 1 issue that need to be sorted out. There is only 1 proven way of tackling this – reduce the amount of alcohol. It’s been proven in Australia and it’s been proven overseas. The evidence is overwhelming. No new studies need to be done. All the answers as to what needs to be done in Byron are there for those who want to know.

    There is a once in a lifetime opportunity in Byron to make a change. Reducing the last sale of alcohol from 03.00 to midnight, stopping new late licences, creating a liquor precinct and making the Liquor Accord’s measures mandatory WOULD reduce alcohol violence in our town by well over 50%. No other measure would ever come close to the reduction in health risks and social changes for the better. The town would regain its reputation, restaurants and bars would be revitalised as residents of the Shire who steer clear of town now choose to return. We would start to attract families back, people who want an outdoor holiday and a relaxed, safe night life. Those in the alcohol industry would find work in other fields. Shift work is bad for the health. Clubs would change their business models. People outside would see Byron in a new light; as a place that is able to sort out its problems instead of a place where what happens, all too often, is that everything becomes too hard. The Rail Trail has a real chance of success, there are plans to sort out the bypass, Byron would have a real chance of reversing its current trend and become attractive to all, residents and visitors 24 hours out of 24.

    Those who think they have a ‘right to party’, need to realise that this ‘right’ is something engineered for them by 5 pub and club owners who have, with very little chance for the community to consider, obtained late night closing. The reason being to make money from them. Byron has been able to stop other commercial ventures felt to be detrimental for the town (Club Med. McDonalds etc), but none of these would have had anything like as detrimental an effect on the town as late night alcohol fuelled violence.

    Amber, you might feel there is nothing positive about about last drinks at midnight, but many don’t . The 18 to 29 year old demographic of Byron constitute 18% of the population. Do you think it is fair for a proportion of this group, and 5 late night licensees, to have what they want at the expense of most of the rest of the community?


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