LET’S KEEP SYDNEY SAFE, BUT NOT AT THE COST OF ITS SPIRIT

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Violence and anti-social behaviour is unacceptable, irrespective of how or when it occurs. But sucking the life out of Sydney is not the solution.

Responsible drinking can be an enjoyable part of a night out and Sydney locals and tourists shouldn’t be denied this because of the actions and crimes of a small minority.

Policy and regulatory responses to reduce violence and anti-social behaviour should be based on three principles: First, reducing violence and anti-social behaviour is a shared responsibility and responses must recognise the roles of governments, industry and individuals.

Second, reduction measures must be targeted at those who are violent and anti-social, and shouldn’t unfairly penalise the vast majority of people who drink responsibly and pose no threat to others.

Finally, responses must be evidenced-based, tailored to the issues in local areas and implemented by local communities including industry, governments and agencies.

Many recent and proposed responses, such as lockouts and restrictions on the density of licences, are broad-brush control measures that destroy businesses and discourage responsible drinkers, but do little to deter violent troublemakers or people who want to abuse alcohol.

Instead there should be a greater focus on proven responses, such as creating safer experiences and better designed venues and entertainment precincts. This could include:

• A wider range of attractions to diversify the ages and interests of people inside the entertainment precincts and make alcohol ancillary to a night out, not the focus of it.

• Better lighting, increased bench seating, clean and accessible public toilets, safe and well-run food outlets, food trucks and water fountains in entertainment precincts.

• Appointing a ‘Night Mayor’ to represent and foster the night time economy.

• Increased security, including CCTV, police presence and higherlevel training of security staff.

• Voluntary use of linked ID scanners where appropriate for high-risk trading venues during identified high-risk periods, and in accordance with relevant privacy laws.

• Improved transport options so people can leave or travel between late night areas safely.

• Greater enforcement of behaviour standards;

• Increased penalties for individuals, better enforcement for industry.

• Targeted education, especially of young adults and parents/guardians, about how alcohol affects you;

Importantly, these measures reflect community sentiment for dealing with violence and harm. An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare survey suggests Australians see targeted measures as more appropriate for addressing alcoholrelated harm than population-wide measures.

The alcohol beverages industry is committed to helping breathe life back into Sydney so it will always be both fun and safe for anyone that wants to go out and enjoy it.

FERGUS TAYLOR IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF

ALCOHOL BEVERAGES AUSTRALIA