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Link found between new liquor outlets and violence

Thursday 10 April

Link found between new liquor outlets and violence

A recent Australian study described at an Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC)-run conference in Nelson today has found increased domestic violence linked to new liquor licences. The conference looks at the role of local government in planning for alcohol and ultimately reducing alcohol-related harm.

The research, which is from the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) at Curtin University in Perth and was published in February, involved examining the effects of liquor licence approvals on alcohol-related problems. Researchers created a model predicting the likely impact of granting new liquor licences anywhere in Australia on alcohol-related assaults, hospitalisations, deaths and road crashes.

Chief investigator in the study and Senior Research Fellow at the institute, Dr Tanya Chikritzhs told the conference the research showed decisions of liquor licensing authorities had a significant impact on communities’ health and safety.

“One of the most surprising things we found is how much liquor stores have to answer for,” she said. “There will be differences in New Zealand but I suspect you may find similar trends, especially in non-metropolitan areas.”

The new research confirmed that an increase in the number of liquor outlets (hotels and/or bottleshops) was associated with an increase in alcohol-related violence and assault in the surrounding area. An unexpected finding, however, was that – regardless of the type of new liquor outlet – most of this increased violence occurred in private homes rather than at licensed premises.

“The model developed in this study allows us, for the first time, to predict the social impacts of any new liquor outlet anywhere in Australia," Dr Chikritzhs said. "Liquor licensing authorities should be obliged to consider these impacts when deciding whether to grant a new licence."

Based on figures from Western Australia, the study found an additional “average”1 hotel in metropolitan Perth would increase the number of domestic violent assaults by 17 a year, and a new “average” metropolitan liquor store would see an extra eight assaults in private homes. If that liquor store was located in Perth’s rural hinterland, the number of domestic assaults would increase by 29 each year.

"A common perception is that most alcohol-related violence happens in and around licensed premises, but the reality is that much of it goes on behind closed doors either following a night out at the pub or after drinking ‘takeaways’ at home. We can assume that the domestic assault figures in this study are just the tip of the iceberg because many alcohol-related violent incidents, particularly domestic, go unreported," Dr Chikritzhs said.

The report, Predicting alcohol-related harms from licensed outlet density, is available at: www.ndlerf.gov.au


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