Maintaining the momentum

Alcohol-fuelled violence continues on Australian streets – Google this topic, and pages and pages of hits will appear. You will also note in these pages that this has become an increasingly alarming issue over the years, with much public outcry in recent times.

The randomness of such violence, and the magnitude and variety of injuries – many of which are irreparable if not unsurvivable – has struck a chord with parents across our country. Hopefully it has also struck a chord with the young men who are likely to be the victims, and the young men who are likely to be the perpetrators. So how do we make a change for the better?

An interesting article by Professor Rod McClure appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald last month, urging us to maintain the momentum to make a real difference in alcohol-fuelled violence and citing traction gained and maintained in road safety in particular as an exemplar of how to make it work:

“There is widespread concern about the recent deaths from alcohol-fuelled violence. There is the risk, however, that in the same way the gun debate in the US flares after every shooting then fades away without change, a similar pattern will emerge in Australia….There has also been an overwhelming frustration and despair that this is an issue for which there is no answer. However, Australia has been faced with similar public health issues that at the time seemed insurmountable, that we have collectively tackled and defeated and we can learn from these to tackle alcohol and its impact on our lives….As a society we committed to a strategic introduction of a road safety program based on better cars, better roads and better road-user behaviour, all regulated by legislation that was rigorously enforced.”

I strongly support Prof McClure’s sentiments in his impassioned plea:

“If we don’t solve the problem of public safety it will not be because we can’t solve the problem. It will be because we are not sufficiently committed to doing so. It will be because the politicians are too timid to lead; the public too selfish to change their habits, or too apathetic to try to change our societal norms; and industry too focused on putting personal profits ahead of public good.

We already have the blueprint for how to change entrenched societal behaviour. We have strategies that are based in evidence and are known to work.

What we need is the collective will and government that are willing to commit to making tougher laws and tougher decisions.

The community has said it has had enough. Surely it’s time for politicians to take action until the injury and death rate from alcohol-fuelled violence is, like the road toll, actively being pushed towards zero.

We’ve done it before, with smoking and with road safety. Now it’s time to do the same with alcohol- fuelled violence, on the streets and in our homes.”

(Read the article at


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