The Queensland State Government should refrain from rushing into new controversial lockout legislation if it is to avoid exacerbating the problem of alcohol-fuelled violence.
This is the call from Associate Professor Grant Devilly who says that the Palaszczuk Government needs to carefully consider the legislation, as well as statistics regarding pre-loading behaviours, whereby people consume alcohol before venturing into town entertainment districts.
He argues that this behaviour needs to be viewed in light of how current policy has led to 10:40 pm being the average time that people arrive in the city for a night out.
The government is aiming to pass laws which will see last drinks at 2 am State-wide, with shots being banned after midnight. Nightclubs will be able to apply to have a 3am last drinks extension, but then must impose a 1am lockout.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has promised the laws will be debated during parliament’s first sitting week of the year in a week’s time.
“Of course, Premier Palaszczuk has the right intention of aiming to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence, but her government really needs a more comprehensive approach to the problem rather than simply making the pub and club drinking times more stringent,” says Associate Professor Devilly from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.
“They really need to think about educating people about what kinds of alcohol levels are acceptable prior to hitting the streets in the evening and making available testing devices in the city so that people can learn to more accurately gauge their drinking. A more comprehensive approach to education is required.”
Associate Professor Devilly recently completed research in conjunction with the Queensland Police Service and Griffith’s School of Applied Psychology, showing that the more people had pre-loaded, the more likely they were to be involved in some form of violent incident or risky behaviour.
In total 3,039 people were breathalysed as they entered entertainment districts in Queensland and were asked to complete either a short or long questionnaire on alcohol-related behaviours. Of those, 2,751 represented people from Brisbane and this data, collected from Thursday night to Sunday morning, was analysed.
“More than 79 per cent of people reported to pre-load, with no differences between the genders and 71 per cent (67 per cent of females and 75 per cent of males) returned a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than zero. Of those registering above zero, the mean BAC was 0.071 (0.068 per cent for females and 0.073 for males).
“Preloading BAC was related to increased risk taking behaviours and alcohol abuse and dependence. Older people entering entertainment districts had much more accurate estimates of their BAC.”
The project team is currently awaiting a response to a letter written to the Queensland Premier which invites discussion about the specific needs of Queenslanders at this time.
“Our research, together with our preloading project, places us in a perfect position to test the effect of any licencing law changes on alcohol and drug taking behaviours by patrons before and while they visit the entertainment districts.
“We are also well positioned to advise and research any initiatives related to music festival policing.”