Last week it was announced that Oxford St and Taylor Square licensed venues have agreed to a trial patron lockout between 6am and 9am on weekends. During the three month trial, starting in December, patrons leaving a venue between those times will not be allowed back into that venue or any other in the Surry Hills Liquor Licensing Accord area.

With all of the coverage that methamphetamine or crystal has received in recent times in regards to accident and emergency departments, it is easy to forget the greatest drug-related problems frontline health workers actually see is alcohol. Some studies have estimated that 10-18 percent of injured patients attending emergency departments are alcohol-related cases.

There is much talk at the moment about homophobic violence increasing on Oxford Street. Although we have no hard data to indicate that this is linked to alcohol, it would be difficult not to believe that at least some of this type of behaviour was alcohol-related. There is a wealth of data showing that alcohol-related youth violence in nightlife settings, such as Oxford St, places huge burdens not only on individuals but the community itself.

We know that one of the best ways to reduce alcohol-related crime is to reduce access to the drug. In NSW (and across Australia for that matter) the alcohol and hotel industry have been extremely powerful for the past couple of decades and instead of reducing access all we seem to have done is to make it easier for people to drink to excess. This has undoubtedly led to increased problems. It is only because of intense media pressure and resulting community concern that we have started to see change occur.

Alcohol is a huge part of the Australian culture, and plays a very significant role in the way many gays and lesbians socialise. The part that alcohol plays in making our community a less safe environment is often forgotten. Many people are not going to be happy with the lockout -” it will definitely disrupt how some people choose to party and have fun. However, if it manages to have some positive effect on the growing violence on the strip (and elsewhere in the state), it surely can’t be such a bad thing.

Remember: If you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and no matter how many times you have used a substance -” never be blase!

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