Nadine Ezard – Don’t lock out the facts on lockout laws: they’ve made this city safer – SMH

May 30, 2019

It’s hard not coming to the conclusion that the saga around Sydney’s lockout laws is coming to its denouement. The NSW Premier, saddled as she is with a Legislative Council crossbench of 11 members, and needing the votes of five of them to pass legislation, has read the writing on the wall.

The writing being that a good many of the crossbench – the two Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MLCs, the two new One Nation MLCs, the Greens – have all expressed a burning desire to water down or scrap the measures entirely.

We also know that before the election, the Deputy Premier and leader of the Nationals brought his own proposal to Cabinet to change the laws.

Why the representatives of rural and regional constituents are so keen to change the rules around Sydney’s night life and drinking establishments is beyond me and perhaps a question for another day … or the alcohol lobby.

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Anthony Grabs: Relaxing lockout laws will lead to more violence – Daily Telegraph

May 30, 2019

Five years ago, on any Friday or Saturday night, St Vincent’s Hospital’s Emergency Department would be awash with the victims of alcohol-related harm, the hospital’s director of trauma, Anthony Grabs, writes. He is surprised the NSW government feels the need to once again review the measures.

It might be easy for some people to put aside what Kings Cross and the CBD were like five years ago before Sydney’s last drinks measures were introduced.

For myself and my colleagues, it’s impossible to forget.

Five years ago, on any Friday or Saturday night, St Vincent’s Hospital’s Emergency Department would be awash with the victims of alcohol-related harm.

It was honestly something akin to a war zone.

Victims of alcohol-related bashings and accidents would fill the entire unit.

The tragic deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie were the most high-profile cases of alcohol-related violence, but there were many others: shocking brain injuries, lives ruined, families torn apart.

I remember the grief-stricken parents of victims of alcohol-related assaults sitting inconsolably in the waiting room, devastated at the injuries to their son or daughter, and how their life would now be irreversibly changed.

This is what I witnessed as head of trauma at St Vincent’s. It’s imprinted on my memory.

And I know it’s the same for many other emergency workers and first ­responders — police and ambulance officers — and they don’t want those bad days to return.

The last drinks reforms — commonly known as the “lockout laws” — changed that. At the hospital, their impact was felt almost overnight.

For example, serious facial trauma admissions at the hospital dropped by over 60 per cent.

And St Vincent’s has not seen a ­single death involving alcohol-related violence since then.

There’s also been little or no displacement of alcohol-related violence to other areas outside the lockout law precinct.

And when I speak to my peers at neighbouring hospitals, it seems that there has been no increase in presentations or admissions related to alcohol either.

In the months after their introduction, on Friday and Saturday nights, colleagues and I would frequently check our mobile phones to see if their silence meant they were broken, such was the enormous contrast to the previous years when the constant ringing would announce the arrival of a new patient who needed our care because of alcohol-related harms.

It’s surprising to me that the NSW government feels the need to once again review the measures so soon after they were last examined in September 2016 by Justice Ian Callinan.

The independent Callinan Report found the measures had delivered a reduction in violence in the city’s entertainment precincts and no significant displacement of violence elsewhere.

Our politicians must think very carefully before they remove or relax these laws.

The evidence is irrefutable: the longer you extend alcohol trading hours and the more accessible you make alcohol — be it at bottle shops, bars, pubs or clubs — the more you increase the number of alcohol-related assaults and other injuries.

We’ve always said these were a package of measures designed to work together. Our concern is that if you water down one area, then it will make the overall package less effective.

St Vincent’s takes its responsibility as a member of its community seriously. We support a vibrant entertainment district in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross but, as Justice Callinan found, “vibrancy is not to be measured only by the amount of alcohol available or consumed throughout the night”.

While we’re disappointed at the prospect of these measures being relaxed, St Vincent’s will present our ­evidence and experiences to the members of the joint select parliamentary committee.

I hope the committee members ­approach the issue without a predetermined outcome in mind and make a decision that is based on what is right for the health and welfare of Sydneysiders.

* Associate Professor Anthony Grabs is Director of Trauma at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Newcastle Herald – Calls for Newcastle-style restrictions to be introduced to licensed venues statewide

Jan 15, 2019

The NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance wants restrictions placed on pubs, clubs and bottle shops statewide as part of a suite of measures aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm.

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SMH: I fear a return to bloodied brawls on Sydney’s streets

Nov 14, 2018

Life is a wonderful thing. There’s no doubt that most of us take it for granted. Sometimes life itself seems so ordinary and mundane and we forget its true value until a loved one suddenly becomes sick or injured, and everything you once took for granted, is snatched from beneath your feet.

With last week’s City of Sydney proposal to extend alcohol trading hours across the city, and this week’s bill in NSW Parliament to scrap our lockout laws altogether – it’s important now more than ever for our politicians to remember not to take young lives for granted.

Click here to read the full opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald by Oliver Behrens, Police Association NSW. 

Media Release: Emergency services workers concerns for extending the grip of 2am alcohol trading to residential suburbs of the city

Nov 6, 2018

Emergency services workers have expressed concerns on a proposal by the City of Sydney which would extend trading hours, for bars across Sydney and potentially spread alcohol related violence to residential parts of the city.

Last Drinks campaign spokesperson Dr Tony Sara said that while the Coalition had no issue with extended hours for businesses that did not sell alcohol, there were concerns that the proposal to extend trading for bars and restaurants could lead to an increase in alcohol related assaults in residential areas.

 

“When trading hours are extended, rates of alcohol related violence on our streets skyrocket. For every hour that a bar remains open, the rate of alcohol-related violence spikes by 40 per cent.”

 

“We should be rolling out Sydney’s successful and modest alcohol laws across all suburbs, not looking for more ways to sell alcohol for longer, bringing alcohol related violence and sexual assault to residential areas of the city.”

 

“With more venues selling liquor for longer, there is a real risk we end up making Sydney’s problem with alcohol related violence worse, not better.”

 

“Additionally, we must be mindful that even if we kept bar trading hours as they are, if more retail businesses open later, the NSW Government needs to commit to providing extra emergency services workers to cope with the inevitable increase in demand when more people are out on the streets at night.”

 

Dr Sara said that after the lockout laws were introduced, Kings Cross saw a 59.2 per cent decrease in assaults between 6pm and 1.30am and a staggering 93.9 per cent decrease between 3am and 6am.

 

“Incidences of indecent and sexual assault in Kings Cross, the primary victims being women, have both reduced by almost 50%.”

 

“St Vincent’s Hospital saw a 50% reduction in serious head injuries between 8pm and 8am. All of these successes are now at risk.”

 

“It is clear that any proposal which extends trading hours for bars is putting young lives in harm’s way.”

Daily Telegraph: Newtown assaults jump 63 per cent

Sep 12, 2018

THE exodus of revellers from Kings Cross to Sydney’s new night-life capital of Newtown has driven a 63 per cent rise in assaults in the precinct.

While non-domestic assaults across the inner west dropped 10.9 per cent, the 2042 postcode of Newtown and Enmore bucked the trend with 246 assaults in the year to June 2018, up from 151 the previous year.

City of Sydney figures show the number of people heading to King St on a Saturday night has exploded over the last five years while the numbers in Kings Cross have nosedived.

Since lock out laws were introduced, assaults in the Cross have halved from 483 in 2014 to 245 this year.

On a brighter note, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research’s latest report revealed the growing popularity of private CCTV cameras had contributed to a dramatic drop in burglaries across the inner west.

The report showed thefts from cars fell 19.3 per cent, home break-ins dropped 17.4 per cent and thefts from dwellings dropped 28.5 per cent in the 24 months to June 2018.

Inner West Police Area Command (PAC) acting crime manager and detective acting inspector Andrew Evans said: “A lot of people these days have installed their own CCTV which is obviously of benefit to us as investigators.

“Six years ago you couldn’t walk into Harvey Norman and purchase three security cameras that were motion censored or Wi-Fi enabled. Home security has improved and become more accessible.

“We also have a very good relationship with the community here in the inner west and we regularly receive information either via Crime Stoppers or through Eyewatch.”

The PAC also has a specific team to review all property related crime every 24 hours.

Insp Evans said their strong relationship with the business community and liquor accord helps them send police where they’re most needed.

Anyone with information about crime can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or go online: facebook.com/InnerWestPAC/.

SMH: Man dead after mob of ‘angry males’ swarms paramedics

Sep 3, 2018

A 25-year-old man has died after paramedics say an angry crowd prevented them from treating him in Sydney’s south.

Paramedics were called to Iris Avenue in Riverwood where the 25-year-old was suspected of having suffered an overdose on Sunday morning.

Five paramedics attended the scene but were not able to treat the man, who they said was in cardiac arrest.

According to the Australian Paramedics Association, relatives of the man became “irate” and a crowd of “angry males” attempted to intervene, blocking those trying to administer treatment.

Paramedics called for police to attend at about 7.45am, but the man was dead by the time they arrived.

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SMH: Assaults on paramedics an unacceptable workplace hazard

Aug 15, 2018

Sunday’s article by Julie Power exposes the shocking cases of assault experienced every day by NSW paramedics. Power’s story reveals the harrowing experiences of individual officers who have been bitten, punched and attacked by patients who behave “like the zombie apocalypse and the walking dead”.

These are not isolated cases. The article also details the decade-long trend of attacks on officers,  which has risen significantly.

These assaults are committed against the women and men whose job it is to save our lives. They work long, antisocial hours, deal with all of life’s gruesome tragedies and crimes and often perform heroic feats of bravery, skill and courage.

But in today’s society, with the prevalence of drugs, alcohol and family violence, they are at serious risk of verbal and physical assault.

Read more.

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