If Premier Mike Baird is serious about protecting women and children from the trauma of family violence, he must stand firm on the current state-wide 10pm bottle shop closing time.
The New South Wales (NSW) Government should postpone any decision on packaged liquor trading to allow for the completion of a more thorough analysis of the available data.
Frankly, the government should be at the barricades publicly defending this important life-saving policy measure.
Preliminary examination of Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) data already shows there is some evidence to suggest a statistically significant reduction in all assaults in regional New South Wales.
To shed further light on this measure’s effectiveness, FARE recently commissioned alcohol expert Professor Kypros Kypri from the University of Newcastle to formally assess the impact of the 10pm packaged liquor cessation of sale introduced in 2014 state-wide.
Given that reducing domestic violence is one of the NSW Government’s 12 priorities for action, it is critical that robust analysis is undertaken to assess the impact of the measure.
In September, former Justice The Hon Ian Callinan AC made note of the compelling “evidence, statistical and otherwise, of the association of alcohol with domestic violence” in his comprehensive final report from the NSW Independent Liquor Law Review.
The review examined the possibility of extending packaged liquor trading in the future, but advised the NSW Government to proceed with caution.
As Callinan himself stresses, any relaxation of the measures carries the likelihood of an increase in alcohol harms and any such changes should be staged and trialled.
“It needs to be understood however that such an extension may elevate the risk of domestic violence,” said Justice Callinan.
Alcohol’s involvement in family and domestic violence is well documented and acknowledged.
Last year, there were 8,949 incidents of domestic violence identified as being alcohol-related in New South Wales alone.
Research has found that for every 10,000 additional litres of pure alcohol sold at a packaged liquor outlet, the risk of violence experienced in a residential setting is increased by 26 per cent.
In the face of such unacceptable numbers, we can and must be doing all we can to reduce those harms.
It is essential that Pru Goward, the Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, defends this measure to ensure that families across New South Wales are not put at increased risk of harm.
At the end of the day, the facts speak for themselves.
It is a simple equation with devastating consequences for the women and children of New South Wales. The more takeaway alcohol sold – the greater the risk of harm.
If the Premier backs down on the 10pm packaged liquor sales he will be turning his back on the women and children of New South Wales. He will be exposing them to certain greater risk of family violence, and walking away from a commitment to make domestic violence a government priority.
At a minimum, the NSW Government should hold off on making any changes to the current measures until a more thorough analysis of the data has been completed.
The risk associated with such reckless action is far too great.