Former rugby league international star Steve Renouf is the ambassador for APN's #HandsOff campaign to tackle violence on our streets.
Former rugby league international star Steve Renouf is the ambassador for APN's #HandsOff campaign to tackle violence on our streets. David Stuart

NSW leads the way in alcohol controls

QUEENSLAND needs to take lessons from New South Wales in the fight against booze-fuelled violence, a leading advocate says.

The Queensland Government's $44 million four-year Safe Night Out Strategy is in its second month but already the project is copping criticism.

Bans, education and changing the culture that leads to violence are the cornerstones of the package.

The State Government has a lot riding on the project.

It was created after 75% of 12,342 Queenslanders said in a February survey they considered alcohol-related violence to be a major problem in central business districts.

In February, the NSW Government rolled out a suite of measures to reduce the problem including changes to trading hours.

Queensland Coalition for Action on Alcohol chairman Professor Jake Najman said the state could learn from NSW.

The coalition, which comprises a large number of non-government organisations, lobbied the Queensland Government as the strategy was being formulated.

One of its key concerns was trading hours, which Mr Najman said fell on deaf ears.

"Basically they've responded to us and said our government is about encouraging business and selling alcohol is part of business and we want to encourage that," Mr Najman said.

"They should be putting more emphasis on reducing the harm than on supporting the business that goes with the sale of alcohol."

The architect of the Safe Night Out Strategy, Brisbane Central MP Robert Cavallucci, said changing trading hours would simply shift the problem to a new timeframe.

"I spent about a year-and-a-half working on the strategy, researching and looking at all the bodies of work in Australia and overseas to come up with a solution that's appropriate for Queensland," he said.

"Because, ultimately, people can talk about solutions for other states, other cities and other countries - but every city is different, every country is different.

"So we needed a solution that would work for Queensland." 

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Long wait until message is heard

IT will take years to change the culture behind alcohol violence.

That's the verdict from some of the country's leading authorities on the subject.

Queensland Homicide Victims' Support Group general manager Ross Thompson said anti-smoking and drink-driving campaigns proved getting the message across was a long-term project.

"It doesn't happen overnight, it takes many many years," Mr Thompson said.

"You've only got to take the smoking campaign from 20-25 years ago when everybody smoked and it's only in the last couple of years that people have realised that smoking is no good for you.

"I think that's going to happen here (with alcohol and violence) and that's how it's going to evolve."

University of Southern Queensland senior psychology lecturer Dr Andrea Quinn said Australia's drinking culture had a lot to answer for.

"If you look at things in terms of the social factors - people who have been raised with alcohol see that as a way of coping - it's the standard of what people do," Dr Quinn said.

"Especially in the Australian culture. That's a major problem for Australia as a culture of drinking." 

SEE MORE ABOUT THE HANDS OFF CAMPAIGN HERE

SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGNS

Some of the campaigns that changed how we think.

- Slip Slop Slap: The Cancer Council Australia's sun protection project featured an animated seagull called Syd and started in 1980.

- The Grim Reaper commercials began in 1987 to raise AIDS awareness. They were the work of the National Advisory Committee on AIDS and featured a grim reaper bowling over men, women and child pins which represented AIDS victims.

- The Transport Accident Commission's "If you drink, then drive, you're a bloody idiot" campaign started in 1989. Recently it was replaced with the "Only a little bit over? You bloody idiot campaign". The TAC also produced the "Don't fool yourself, speed kills" campaign that stared in 1994.


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