A comprehensive, two-year evaluation has vindicated the Palaszczuk Government’s moves to address alcohol-fuelled violence, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said today.
Mrs D’Ath said the Government had made some tough decisions when introducing a suite of measures three years ago to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence.
The initiatives were intended to reduce alcohol-related violence and harm in entertainment precincts, drive cultural change around drinking behaviours, and balance a reduction in harm with the interests of patrons and the hospitality industry.
Mrs D’Ath said the evaluation had reported “promising reductions in some key measures of alcohol-related harm across Queensland”.
Its findings included:
- a 29 per cent average reduction per month statewide in serious assaults between 3 and 6am, with a 40 per cent reduction in the Fortitude Valley Safe Night Precinct and a significant reduction in the Toowoomba Safe Night Precinct
- a 29 per cent reduction in ambulance callouts in Safe Night Precincts between
- 3 and 6am, and an 11 per cent average reduction statewide
- a 12 per cent reduction in hospital admissions of ocular bone fractures in greater Brisbane, and a four per cent average reduction per month statewide
- at least one serious crime (including rape and grievous bodily harm) solved per week across Queensland using ID scanner data.
Mrs D’Ath said the rigorous, comprehensive and independent evaluation had been undertaken by the Deakin University, working with the University of Queensland, James Cook University and La Trobe University.
Their report, Queensland Alcohol-Related Violence and Night-Time Economy Monitoring – QUANTEM – and the Government’s response to its 38 recommendations were released today. (Refer Queensland Parliament Tabled Papers database)
Mrs D’Ath said the Government would consider and consult on a range of measures to further reduce alcohol-fuelled violence, including longer periods for police banning orders and greater enforcement of responsible service of alcohol obligations.
“While we are pleased to see some positive signs as a direct result of the measures we took, we still have work to do,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“Part and parcel of having a vibrant nightlife is people feeling safe about going out. That’s especially what the parents and grandparents of our young people want, and we remain committed to that objective.”
She said the evaluation team had considered a range of datasets, including Emergency Department presentations and hospital admissions, police and ambulance callouts, court data and comparative data from entertainment precincts.
In acknowledging the positive reductions in harm, it was also important to acknowledge the evaluation found that pre-drinking levels of patrons in entertainment precincts had not changed and remained high, as had levels of harm, and education and awareness campaigns aimed at reducing drunkenness and violence had not been effective.
“Consequently, the Government has committed to support in principle or give further consideration to 28 of the report’s recommendations, which will further address the causes and consequences of alcohol-related violence,” Mrs D’Ath said.
The evaluation also found that mandatory networked ID scanners, introduced in 2017 to identify risky or criminal patrons, had shown reductions in police-recorded assaults.
Mrs D’Ath said ID scanners had provided a systematic way of preventing potentially dangerous patrons from entering venues.
“ID scanners give venues the ability to identify patrons who have a history of violence, in particular those who have been banned from Safe Night Precincts by police or the courts.
“By keeping these troublemakers out, venues have become safer for law-abiding patrons wanting to enjoy a night out, and so have the entertainment precincts where people go,” she said.
Mrs D’Ath said the Government’s response did not support 10 recommendations, which it believed did not strike a reasonable balance between reducing harm, the interests of patrons and supporting jobs in the hospitality industry, or could otherwise result in adverse potential impacts.
“In economic terms, the evaluation found that the initiatives have resulted in an overall benefit of $16 million to the Queensland community.
“The measures have not impacted adversely on industry, with numbers of patrons, licensed venues and live music performances stable or rising,” she said.
Mrs D’Ath said a separate 2017 evaluation by Deakin University had found that support services in Safe Night Precincts had benefited intoxicated patrons and prevented minor crime and harm.
“Because of the initiatives we have put in place, the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol has ranked Queensland’s approach to tackling alcohol-fuelled violence highly, including the best in Australia for two years running.
“The Palaszczuk Government remains committed to engaging and working with key stakeholders and will do precisely that on the further measures that we will now examine to keep our nightlife thriving and patrons safe,” Mrs D’Ath said.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath