Notorious Sydney nightclub Home racks up string of drug overdoses, police call-outs

Jul 27, 2017

 MARK MORRI, The Daily Telegraph

POLICE were called to an overdose-plagued Sydney nightclub more than 150 times in the past two years — including for 43 drug incidents and 37 assaults.

Activity at Darling Harbour club Home is now so dangerous the venue has even employed its own private paramedics to deal with emergencies inside.

Just a month after six revellers overdosed in a single night at the venue, The Daily Telegraph can reveal the shocking full extent of a police brief on the club.

Medical staff have treated six overdose cases at Home in just a month. Home Nightclub at Cockle Bay has been forced to hire its own paramedic team. The packed dance floor at Home.

“The material provided by police indicates the venue has a history of violent incidents over the past two years,” a document reveals.

The 43 drug incidents include “multiple incidents of patrons apprehended in the venue with large quantities of drugs”. There were also 27 “observations of signs of intoxications”.

Read more on the Daily Telegraph. 

Vancouver follows in Sydney’s footsteps and introduces “Last Entry” lock out laws

Jul 26, 2017

Andrew Ryce – Resident Advisor

Vancouver City Council has introduced Sydney-style lockout bylaws.

The program, called Last Entry, goes into effect on July 1st. It will only affect clubs in the Granville Entertainment District. Bars will be permitted to stay open until 3 AM, but patrons will only be admitted before 2, in an effort to address what the city calls rising rates of crime and violence in the Downtown area.

“The number of police incidents has risen year-over-year and it continues to be a problem,” Vancouver general manager of development Kaye Krishna told the CBC. “What we’re trying to do is thin out the crowds in a more gradual way. When people are all leaving bars at the same time the streets get very crowded… and that’s when many of the fights occur.” Krishna cited the Sydney rules, which banned entry after 1:30 AM, as inspiration for Vancouver’s trial.

Read more on Resident Advisor


Community input on NSW liquor licences to be reviewed

Jun 19, 2017

By Sean Nicholls

The process by which members of the community can have their say on proposals for new liquor licences will be reviewed by the NSW government for the first time in almost a decade.

Racing Minister Paul Toole has announced that Liquor and Gaming NSW has issued a discussion paper on the evaluation of so-called Community Impact Statements and is calling for public submissions by July 26.

A Community Impact Statement is a written summary of the potential harm a liquor licence might have on a neighbourhood. It must contain community stakeholder feedback, such as concerns and support.

The statements are required when applications for a range of liquor licences are made, including for a hotel, club, bottle shop and some small bars.

The statement is posted on the Liquor and Gaming NSW website for 30 days for comment.

The discussion paper asks for feedback on the efficacy of the statements, whether there are “opportunities to cut red tape and minimise delays” and what types of liquor licences should be required to complete them.

It says the results of the evaluation “are expected to inform a broader review seeking to better align the planning and liquor approvals processes”, which is proposed for later in 2017.

“It’s important that those potentially affected by liquor licences have input into the assessment process, whether they be residents, councils, police or others,” Mr Toole said.

“But it’s also important that pubs, bars and other venues can continue to provide options for people who want to socialise and enjoy themselves.”

Article published on The Sydney Morning Herald 

Sydney Morning Herald: ‘Wild night in Coogee’ as brawling teens surround Police

Apr 27, 2017
  • Megan Levy


Police said they were initially called to the park about 11pm to reports that two girls were fighting.

A NSW Police spokeswoman said when the officers from the Eastern Beaches Local Area Command arrived at the park, they found the girls involved in a scuffle.

As the officers attempted to separate the pair, they were allegedly surrounded by a large group of teenagers who began brawling.

The spokeswoman said bottles were thrown at police when they attempted to disperse the crowd. One officer was struck in the head with a bottle and was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics.

Police called for urgent back-up from neighbouring police commands, and a large number of police cars descended on the area.

One witness said there were “people everywhere” in the park opposite the Coogee Bay Hotel, with “cops and ambulances everywhere”.

Justin Taunton, a Burwood Councillor, was at a friend’s Coogee apartment at the time and said up to 20 police cars were parked along Arden Street just before 12.30am on Tuesday.

Cr Taunton told Fairfax Media that, from the first-floor balcony where he was standing, he could hear someone yell repeatedly: “Who threw that bottle?”. He also saw some people trying to attack police as they were being loaded into a paddy wagon.

Cr Taunton said he had seen “lots of drunk teenagers” wandering the streets of Coogee earlier in the night, and said the disturbance would probably be “wrongly blamed on the pubs”.

“They were only kids,” he said.

“There were lots of kids everywhere, in different groups, wandering all over the place. They were obviously drunk, but they weren’t obviously carrying alcohol around with them.”

Mr Taunton said it was unusual to see so many groups of children wandering around Coogee at night, and wondered whether the gathering had been organised on social media.

A number of cars parked along Arden Street also were damaged during the incident, police said.

Police said the three males were arrested and taken to Maroubra Police Station.

On Tuesday morning, the 14-year-old boy was charged with malicious damage and breaching bail. He was refused bail to appear at a children’s court on Tuesday.

The 16-year-old boy was charged with resisting arrest, offensive behaviour and failing to comply with police direction. He was refused bail to appear at a children’s court on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old man was charged with resisting an officer in the execution of duty, and assaulting police in the execution of duty. The man was granted conditional bail to appear at Waverley Local Court on May 31.

Story originally in the Sydney Morning Herald

FARE: Harmed, drunk and dangerous: Aussies link alcohol to family and domestic violence

Apr 27, 2017

A staggering majority (92%) of Australians believe alcohol is linked to family and domestic violence.

That finding mirrors Australians’ attitudes to alcohol more broadly, with new polling revealing Aussies are concerned about and impacted by alcohol harm, and they are suspicious and deeply cynical about the alcohol industry.

Now in its eighth year, the ‘Annual alcohol poll 2017: Attitudes and behaviours’ found almost eight in ten (78%) of respondents believe Australia has a problem with excess drinking, and a growing majority (81%) think more should be done to reduce alcohol harm.

Each year the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education’s (FARE) national alcohol poll provides valuable trend data and insights into community perspectives on alcohol.

2017 was the first year in which Australians were asked if they perceived a link between alcohol and family and domestic violence.

FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn is not surprised by the poll’s findings, but says it should act as a wake-up call to governments that have been too slow to take action.

“The evidence showing alcohol’s involvement in family and domestic violence is not in dispute, and for an even longer time we’ve had the anecdotal proof as well. The public, whether witnessing this first-hand or through the media, clearly understands and acknowledges the link, with a majority of those (80%) calling on governments to step up and address the problem,” Mr Thorn said.

Conducted by Galaxy Research, the 2017 poll once again confirms the alcohol industry’s poor reputation.

A minority of Australians say they could trust information provided by the alcohol industry on responsible drinking (40%), drinking during pregnancy (27%), underage drinking (24%) and the health benefits of certain alcohol products (16%).

Mr Thorn says the Australian community has a healthy level of scepticism about the alcohol industry.

“It is no exaggeration to say Aussies are deeply suspicious and justifiably critical when it comes to the alcohol industry. They don’t trust what the industry says and they recognise its poor corporate behaviour. Fifty seven per cent of Australians say the alcohol industry targets people under the age of 18 years, and the majority, 74 per cent of Australians, believe the alcohol industry should pay for reducing the alcohol harm it causes, and rightly so,” Mr Thorn said.

In 2017, Australians reported getting drunk in larger numbers than ever before. The proportion of Australians who drink to get drunk increased to 44 per cent (up from 37% in 2016 and 34% in 2015). Wine remains the country’s alcoholic drink of choice (29%), beating out regular strength beer (21%).

For the first time since 2010, we also asked Australians why they had increased or decreased their consumption of alcohol over the past 12 months.

Peer pressure, stress, and depression led many to drink more, with 30 per cent needing to drink to feel happy or overcome depression, 29 per cent feeling more stressed, and 29 per cent of respondents influenced by the increased alcohol consumption of friends and family.

In contrast, people’s wallets, waistlines and wellness concerns caused many to drink less, with 49 per cent of this group wanting to improve their health, 24 per cent citing weight concerns and 23 per cent stating they could not afford to drink as much as the reason for a decrease in their alcohol consumption.

The 2017 Poll has once again highlighted the extent of alcohol harm in the Australian community.

One third of Australians (35%) indicated they have been affected by alcohol-related violence (up from 29% in 2016), with 48 per cent of these indicating they have been affected by alcohol-related violence in the last 12 months.

One in five (21%) parents with a child under 18 reported that their child has been harmed or put at risk of harm due to someone else’s drinking (consistent with 23% in 2016).

Mr Thorn says this is the serious and very troubling face of the national poll.

“It’s a damning indictment of this country’s toxic relationship with alcohol when we have more than a third of Australians affected by alcohol-related violence. These troubling findings are really a reflection of the extent of alcohol harm in Australia; the 15 lives lost and 430 hospitalisations caused by alcohol every single day,” Mr Thorn said.

In 2017 the poll again looked at the impact of alcohol advertising on children, with 77 per cent of parents reporting their child under the age of 18 has been exposed to alcohol advertising (up from 71% in 2016).

Almost half of parents indicated that their child has been exposed to alcohol advertising at a supermarket or shopping centre (49%), while outside on the street (billboards/posters) (45%), through the radio, television or cinema (43%), or at a licensed venue (restaurant or club) (42%).

More than two thirds (68%) of Australians support placing a ban on alcohol advertising on television before 8.30pm, consistent with 2016 (70%) and a majority of Australians (55%) believe alcohol sponsorship should not be allowed at sporting events (down from 60% in 2016).

Mr Thorn says Australia’s major sporting codes continue to find themselves out of step with community attitudes and expectations when it comes to alcohol advertising and sport.

“It is very clear that on this issue Australians overwhelmingly support booze free sport. Exposure to alcohol advertising is harmful to children, and we will continue to represent the Australian community and fight for an end to alcohol sponsorship in sport,” Mr Thorn said.

View media release in PDF

View the report

Annual alcohol poll 2017: Attitudes and behaviours

Apr 27, 2017

Harmed, drunk and dangerous: Aussies concerned over Australia’s drinking problem

Aussies are growing increasingly worried about the negative impacts of alcohol, with the majority believing Australia has a problem with alcohol abuse.

Now in its eighth year, the Annual alcohol poll 2017: Attitudes and behaviours – takes an in-depth look at Australian attitudes towards alcohol, their drinking behaviours, and their perspectives on key alcohol policies.

This year, for the first time, the poll reveals Australians’ strong attitudes to the relationship between alcohol and family and domestic violence, with a staggering majority of Australians (92 per cent) believing alcohol is linked to family and domestic violence.

See FARE’s full report and videos here

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD – Violent Sydney CBD brawl sees teenage woman, two men arrested

Apr 18, 2017

Andrew Taylor

A man has been arrested and charged following a violent brawl in Sydney’s CBD early on Sunday.

Two teenagers – a man and a woman – were also arrested.

Police were called to Pitt Street about 4am, following reports of two assaults, to find more than 20 men and women fighting outside a convenience store.

A fight reportedly began inside the Arthouse Hotel, which left a man unconscious with serious head injuries, Channel Nine reported.

A violent brawl also erupted outside the hotel, with a crowd of up to 40 spilling onto the street.

More than a dozen police attended, using pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

Police said a 19-year-old woman was treated at the scene for the effects of pepper spray and was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital for assessment.

Two men, aged 18 and 29, and a woman, aged 19, were arrested at the scene.

The men were taken to Day Street police station, while the woman was taken to Surry Hills police station.

The teenagers were later released, pending further inquiries.

The 29-year-old man, from South Hurstville, was charged with affray and resisting arrest. He has also been banned from licensed premises in Sydney’s CBD.

The 18-year-old man released by the police said “the other people” had started the fight.

Asked about her injuries, a female companion walking behind him said: “Yeah, I’m all right, but.”

Police said they were continuing their inquiries and were speaking to a number of witnesses.

Seven News reported that police were also investigating whether security guards were involved in the fight.

Originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald 

THE CONVERSATION: Where are they now? What public transport data reveal about lockout laws and nightlife patronage

Apr 12, 2017

It is vital that public policy be driven by rigorous research. In the last decade key policy changes have had profound impacts on nightlife in Sydney’s inner city and suburbs. The most significant and controversial of these has been the 2014 “lockout laws”.

These were a series of legislative and regulatory policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related violence and disorder through new criminal penalties and key trading restrictions, including 1.30am lockouts and a 3am end to service in select urban “hotspots”.

A range of lobbyists, including New South Wales Police and accident and emergency services, welcomed these initiatives.

By contrast, venue operators, industry organisations and patron groups have made repeated but largely anecdotal claims that these changes caused a sharp downturn in profit, employment and cultural vibrancy in targeted areas. They also claim that the “lockouts” have caused drinking-related problems to spill over into urban areas that are less equipped to cope with them.

Crime is down

However, in late 2016, the Callinan Review referenced compelling evidence in support of the current policy.

According to the latest research, recorded rates of crime are down by around 49% in the designated Kings Cross precinct and 13% in Sydney’s CBD.

In contrast, what little research has been produced by opponents of strict nightlife regulation has been criticised as unreliable, inaccurate and poorly deployed.

The pattern of assaults has shifted since the lockout laws began. BOCSAR, Author provided

The Callinan Review noted the lack of verifiable claims about the negative impacts of the policy in submissions from the main opponents of the lockout laws. This has led to a great deal of assumption in the final report about where, for example, revellers, jobs, entertainment and revenue might have been displaced to, or how the policy changes affected them.

In many respects, the passing over of claims made by anti-lockout groups is rather unfair. These groups are not official state bodies with the capacity to produce the type of data or evidence on which the policy has been justified and defended. As such, their “unscientific” observations and experiences have been largely dismissed.

To critically balance and juxtapose opposing claims, more impact data and research are needed.

We must take a city-wide perspective

If the lockout policy is judged on the original goal of decreasing crime in designated “hotspots”, then it appears to have been a success.

However, from a city-wide perspective there are other issues to consider. Not the least of these is the effects in other nightlife sites across Sydney.

Despite initially finding no displacement of violence to nearby nightlife sites, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has just released findings showing significant displacement in rates of recorded non-domestic-related violence in destinations outside the lockout zone.

Reported crime rates in Newtown, one of the displacement sites listed in the BOCSAR study (along with Bondi and Double Bay), increased by 17% in the 32 months following the lockouts.

These new findings appear to vindicate some local complaints about increased night violence – including attacks targeting LGBTI victims – that has led to much resident irritation and even political protest in recent years.

Adjusting our nightlife habits

So, how can we better judge the veracity of these claims about the displacement of nuisance and violence?

Mapping patronage trends is a key means of understanding how and why rates of assault have now increased despite initially showing little to no change.

To this end, Kevin McIsaac and I, with data from Transport for NSW, have set out to ascertain if and how nightlife participation in Sydney has been influenced by the lockouts.

Our analysis focused on night-time aggregated train validation data (turnstile counts) from January 2013 to July 2016 for stations servicing the designated nightlife precincts (Kings Cross, Town Hall) and precincts outside the lock-out zone (Newtown, Parramatta).

Using Bayesian Change Point (BCP) detection we found the following:

  • no evidence of changes to Kings Cross or Parramatta exit traffic from the introduction of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of strong growth in the Parramatta Friday-night exit traffic by about 200% since January 2013, which is independent of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of an increase of about 300% in the Newtown Friday-night exit traffic as a result of the lock-out laws; and
  • in all stations, the BCP algorithm detected a change when OPAL card usage exceeded magnetic ticket usage. This suggests the jumps seen in the graphs below are due to the higher exit reporting from OPAL. The switch from flat to slow growth in trend is probably an artefact of the relative increase in OPAL usage.

Kings Cross change point Friday night.

Kings Cross change point Saturday night.

Newtown change point Friday night.

Newtown change point Saturday night.

Parramatta change point Friday night.

Parramatta change point Saturday night.

These findings provide new insights into the way people have adjusted their nightlife habits. The most interesting finding is the dramatic increase in access to Newtown nightlife. Exits in Newtown have increased 300% since the lock-outs were introduced in 2014.

As can be seen from the graph, the rate of increase has been steady over the study period. This raises questions about whether there is a threshold at which patron density becomes an issue that potentially results in increased nuisance and violence.

Big data’s capacity to help

While this research is still in its early phases, the transport data tell one small, yet significant, part of the story. However, to draw definite conclusions, there is far more that needs to be considered.

Many nightlife patrons travel into the city by different means, or don’t travel at all (those who live in and around the city).

We need alternative data to try to identify patterns concerning these groups. Several different organisations have data that could help paint a more complete picture, including telcos, Google, Taxis NSW and Uber.

While these organisations should be protective of their data, the value of anonymous aggregate location data is how it can inform and advance public policy through ethical research. This information is key to breaking down access barriers. Without access to these anonymous aggregations of privately controlled data, the capacity of research is limited.

As such, there is a need for greater communication, collaboration and co-operation between producers of big data, the government and researchers into social impact. By building stronger evidence for all manner of policies, such partnerships have an amazing potential to contribute to the public good.

Originally posted in The Conversation

DAILY TELEGRAPH: Police and security guards take control of new taxi rank to make streets safer in Newtown

Apr 10, 2017

David Barwell, Kimberley Caines and Jillian McKee, Inner West Courier Inner City

POLICE and security guards have started patrolling a new taxi rank in Newtown in a bid to curb assault rates and reduce traffic chaos from late-night revellers hailing cabs along King St.

Three security guards have been employed to oversee the safety of patrons and taxi drivers at the cab rank (outside the Commonwealth Bank) near Whateley Lane.

Working from 10pm to 5am on Friday and Saturdays, the patrolled rank with seven taxi spots is an initiative of City of Sydney’s Late Night Transport Working Group and Newtown LAC.

Newtown police duty officer Acting Inspector Christine McDonald said the launch of the taxi rank was quiet, possibly due to people not being aware of it.

“We had three dedicated police officers for the taxi rank and they could have drawn on other officers if required but it was very quiet,” Act-Insp McDonald said.

Newtown Neighbourhood Centre chief executive Liz Yeo said the patrols were one of the ideas identified to keep King St “weird, vibrant and safe”.

“While there’s been a lot of positive feedback coming from the community meetings there are still concerns over late-night levels of harassment,” she said.

“We’re still pushing for late-night public transport options but having that added security is a really good outcome.”

The measures come as weekend visitation numbers in Newtown continue to soar fuelled by revellers ditching the CBD lockout zones for King St.

Newtown state Greens MP Jenny Leong has supported the move, saying problems were occurring when people were rejected from venues.

“What we know is that one thing worse than a drunken idiot on the street is a drunken idiot who can’t get a taxi home,” she said.

Assaults down, but not everyone swallows the stats

Latest crime figures show Newtown has missed out on the brunt of violence displaced by the infamous lockout laws — but some argue the statistics tell a different story.

While assaults rose more than 20 per cent in places such as Bondi and Coogee, statistics released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research last week showed assaults had decreased in Newtown.

Prior to the lockout laws in 2013, Newtown recorded 161 assaults; this rose to 178 in 2014 but then fell to pre-lockout levels of just 163.

Newtown crime manager Detective Inspector Damian Goodfellow said that while many venues had seen patronage double or triple, crime had not followed.

“Although there has been a dramatic increase of foot traffic in the Newtown CBD, there has been a disproportionately low increase in crime,” he said.

But one prominent venue manager, who did not wish to be named, told the Courier she had become hesitant to call police post-lockout.

“It’s much more of a big deal these days to call the police to your venue, because in the back of your mind you’re becoming part of a statistic which can be used to destroy the industry you work in,” she said.

“These days, if someone threw a glass at me and I had security there who could keep the situation under control, I would second- guess if I really needed police there.”

But the manager said she often called police for other concerns with regard to harassment and failure to leave the premises.

This was evident in the crime figures, with liquor-related offences in Newtown up more than 32 per cent since the controversial laws were introduced.

Newtown Liquor Accord president Richard Adamson said while there may be “some hesitancy”, he believed police and venues had a good communication.

“I would encourage venues to be open with police around incidents and similarly encourage police and government not to enforce punitive measures on good operators because of isolated incidents.”

Originally published in The Daily Telegraph 


THE AUSTRALIAN: Sydney’s Sin City, Kings Cross, is emerging from the wreckage of the state’s controversial lockout laws with a new culture of underground boutique wine bars and pop-up eateries.

Mar 30, 2017

From gin joints down abandoned laneways, to whisky bars concealed behind unmarked doors, the area is experiencing a renaissance as young entrepreneurs reimagine spaces in a suburb long known as a red-light district.

Staff at the Equilibrium ­graph­ic design company have joined forces to launch a book offering an insight into the rebirth of the area from the perspective of bar owners, chefs and baristas.

Creative director Bec Paton said the idea came about after she witnessed the devastating effect of the lockout laws, introduced in March 2014, which banned many bars and pubs in Kings Cross from admitting anyone after 1.30am.

Locals complained that foot traffic was cut significantly, for­cing many businesses to close.

“There has been a lot of really negative discourse around Kings Cross, particularly since the lockout laws,” Ms Paton said. “But the Cross is growing up and is starting to become a centre of gastronomy and mixology. It is a really tight-knit, village-style community.”

The book, Naughty x Nice: Recipes + Stories from Kings Cross, Sydney, explores the sordid history­ of the Cross and examines the new night-life emerging in its place.

“We all live and work in the area so we selected some of our favourite bars and cafes and interviewed them about their perceptions about how the Cross is changing,” Ms Paton said. Each venue has also contributed a ­recipe that reflects their love of the area, including a reimagined pina colada from The Roosevelt. Originally owned by infamous gangster Abe Saffron, The Roosevelt was one of the jewels of King Cross in the 1940s, hosting Sammy Davis Jr, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

Today, the exclusive cocktail bar, owned by hospitality mogul Sven Almenning, has a different look but operates under its origina­l name in a homage to “its ­famous forebears”.

“We consider the latest wave of bars and restaurants are contributing to a newer social history, and some of them have really ­interesting food and drink philosophies,” Ms Paton said.

“The owner of an Indian rest­aurant called Malabar was a chemist, and is interested in cooking Indian cuisine in really ­nutritional and healthy ways, which his customers love.”

According to Ms Paton, the characters in the book perfectly ­illustrate a fresh new feel for Kings Cross.

“The lockout laws have been devastating for business and night-life, but there are still really interesting things happening, and people have been extremely ­entrepreneurial in the area to give the Cross new life,” she said.

Originally published in The Australian