Planning for safety
Policy development and research
This report has established that there are a range of well accepted practical measures being implemented within different States and Territories which can be adopted or adapted and which have some immediate impact on the level of alcohol-related violence in public. The relative success of practical measures reinforces the view frequently expressed by those consulted: there is no simple formula to address alcohol related violence in our community but rather a series of local solutions which a more general legislative and policy framework can either encourage or impede.
Within the general context of this view, it is clear from our investigations that the development of a collaborative approach involving multi-agency cooperation, industry support and community participation is the most effective way of dealing with the situational and environmental factors relating to alcohol-related violence.
It is essential, however, that while recognising and emphasising, the importance of local and community projects, there also be a national strategy in relation to the issues. Thus, Governments throughout Australia, in cooperation with the Commonwealth, should give priority to those initiatives that use specifically targeted interventions in local areas aimed at:
- reducing violence associated with licensed premises and alcohol-related violence at public events and at public places;
- changing the culture of violence in our society which is reflected in patterns of behaviour associated with alcohol consumption; and
- providing practical assistance to communities which seek to evaluate alcohol-related safer community initiatives.
A strategic government- and industry-funded policy to have a significant number of specific local initiatives to counter alcohol-related violence in place as soon as possible would send clear signals to the community, of a positive commitment. One of the aims of such a funding policy should be to identify initiatives which can be copied.Back to index
This list describes broad approaches which underpin effective actions to reduce alcohol-related violence in public places:
- better management techniques which see profit in safe, well-run establishments;
- the introduction of responsible-service guidelines into a wide range alcohol-related industries as a necessary component of public-risk management;
- community development strategies which encourage cooperative solutions to specific local problems;
- codes of practice developed by licensees, industry associations and venue managers to deal with alcohol-related problems in a number o States and Territories;
- general staff and crowd controller training, and accreditation program which lead to improvements not only in conditions in individual premises but which also encourage major cultural change in precincts and enhance their recreational and tourist potential;
- pro-active and holistic policing approaches to alcohol-related violence which do not focus solely on enforcement directed at licensed premises but take a wider perspective;
- attention to the concepts of safety enhancement and crime prevention urban planning, environmental design and building architecture to in reducing alcohol-related violence and minimising any ensuing harm;
- the integration of safe alcohol-consumption programs into more generic safe-community movements;
- coordination and collaboration as key mechanisms for dealing with specific local problems; and
- evaluation strategies which provide realistic prospects of better targeting alcohol-related violence-reduction programs.
It is clear from our findings that there needs to be a mix of community action, legislative structure, Government and industry cooperation and participation and effective policing in order to ensure that appropriate strategies are put in place.
This mix is important in introducing initiatives and in monitoring and evaluating them. Our research confirms the value of governments recognising that there should be a coordinated, multi-agency approach to dealing with alcohol-related problems and that they are not simply a police, health or licensing responsibility.Back to index
It is clear that effective methods of reducing alcohol-related violence take into account the principles of:
- developing institutional/structural changes;
- ensuring managerial responsibility and training;
- effective regulation, and
- planning for a safe physical environment.
The following actions should be considered in order to reduce the situational and environmental factors which have an impact on alcohol related violence in Australia.
1. Community Councils Against Violence should be developed in each State and Territory. The councils should be broadly representative of the general community with well resourced secretariats. Their terms of reference should include:
- coordinating community, industry and government agencies in a multi-sectoral approach to the reduction of alcohol-related violence;
- inquiring, into particular and specific situational and environmental factors which may be causing alcohol-related violence in public;
- providing, a local repository and clearing house for information on alcohol-related violence; and
- working with local groups to identify specific intervention strategies which might assist local governments developing local law policies.
2. The collection of uniform national data on alcohol-related violence should be improved through mechanisms such as:Back to index
- a national database on the incidence of alcohol-related violence; and
- an information network on strategies for reducing alcohol-related violence.
It is envisaged that the information network, as well as linking the work of the various Community Councils against Violence in this area, would work with other agencies, such as the Australian Drug Foundation, and various State health department initiatives and voluntary agencies to ensure a ready supply of information in the form of videos, manuals and the like on programs, evaluation processes and funding opportunities.
Guidelines for the gathering and collation of such data, to provide research material for the development of policy on further interventions, should be developed.
They should set out the methods of data collection and recording so there is a consistent approach, so that they adopt a standard definition of alcohol-related violence, licensed premises, public events and public places and ensure that there is ease of access to the data gathered while protecting the privacy of the parties involved.
3. Steps should be taken to develop simplified, consistent liquor-licensing laws throughout Australia. These should require all licensees (including the holders of licenses for special one-off events) to demonstrate, as a condition of their obtaining or renewing a licence, that they:
- know the relevant liquor-licensing laws;
- are familiar with the principles of responsible service of alcohol and have the ability and resources to implement responsible service practices;
- can train staff they employ accordingly; and
- are aware of the need to employ licensed and trained security staff.
4. A government and industry representative body responsible for the coordination of programs for the responsible serving of alcohol and for the promotion of training should be developed.
5. A representative peak body be established at the State/Territory and Federal level for those in the security industry specifically involved in crowd control and safety at licensed premises and events.
6. Measures should be taken to remove alcohol sponsorship from major events. This may be achieved through such measures as the establishment of health-promotion foundations, or the extension of the terms of reference of existing health promotion foundations to take over the sponsorship of events currently sponsored by alcohol companies.Back to index
7. A national Code of Practice and operations manual which focuses on strategies for the prevention of alcohol-related violence in major venues should be developed. This may be developed by an organisation such as the Venue Management Association.
8. A uniform operations manual for the holding of public events in public places be developed which focuses on strategies to prevent alcohol related violence.
9. The targeted community information and promotional strategies be expanded to include information for patrons about:
- the responsible-service obligations of alcohol servers;
- how patrons themselves might ensure that their consumption levels are responsible; and,
- situational and environmental factors that can lead to increased violence where alcohol is consumed, and steps they can take to moderate them.
10. The training programs for management and service staff of establishments where alcohol is served should be standardised nationally to include:
- risk assessment training;
- adequate product knowledge; and,
- skill training, for responsible service.
11. Peak alcohol and hospitality bodies should collaborate in the development and promotion of nationally standardised programs for management and service staff which include the above.
12. Nationally standardised training. programs for security staff with specific attention to skills required by those who work in licensedBack to index
premises and at large public events should be developed. Such training should include:
- understanding of security concepts;
- stress on communication and non-aggressive intervention skills;
- education in public-relations techniques especially as they are relevant to the role of security staff as front-line representatives of the hospitality industry;
- legal studies related to maintaining the peace;
- strategies for dealing with major incidents and emergencies;
- incident report writing, and periodic updating of training; and,
- basic first-aid training.
This and the previous recommendation are seen as crucial to consolidating the quality of present training programs, enabling. the establishment of a professional ethos among, management and staff and ensuring that a process of trainer accreditation and program evaluation is put in place.
13. A draft set of principles aimed at controlling the supply and overconsumption of alcohol in public should be developed and issued for industry and public discussion.
14. The existing legislative and regulative powers to reduce and prevent alcohol-related violence in the public drinking environment in States and Territories should be applied. As well, strong consideration should be given to the amendment of liquor-licensing, laws to achieve the following nationally identified objectives:
- the granting of licences only to licensees who:
- have knowledge of licensing laws;
- are familiar with the principles of the responsible service of alcohol and have the ability and resources to implement them; and
- have appropriately trained persons in effective control of alcohol service at licensed premises, venues and events;
- the employment only of appropriately trained and registered security staff in situations where alcohol is served;
the incorporation of Codes of Practice into the regulatory framework so that it is ensured that all licensees can abide by them; the cessation of promotional practices by licensees, their associates or agents which encourage the excessive consumption or misuse of alcohol by customers; the requirement that approval for alcohol service or consumption at a public event or in a public place will be conditional on the provision by the promoter of the event of a risk assessment and management plan; the capacity for major public venues to have a designated licence for each of the bars or areas at which alcohol is served or sold so that each area meets appropriate standards; and the maintenance of an incidence register for any alcohol-related acts of violence that occur on premises or at venues.
15. There should be legislation for comprehensive accreditation training, registration and identification of security staff, and in particular crowd controllers.
16. The representative security industry bodies should participate in the development of legislation and identification of security staff and future policy development.
17. The principles of safety in design of the built environment should be considered within initiatives in urban design and the training of architects and planners. This may be achieved through incentives such as:Back to index
- the establishment in tertiary institutions of multi-discipline centres of excellence in safety in design of the built environment;
- a major in-service training program for architects and planners on the issues of safety in and around licensed premises, at public venues and in public places; and
- an annual award for best design in licensed premises or venues or in public places.
These three incentives are seen as a seeding process for putting safety, especially from alcohol-related violence, at the heart of urban-planning, and building-design agenda.
18. That in planning schemes or codes in States and Territories there be included overall design guidelines for safety in and around licensed premises or venues and public places which have the object of reducing alcohol-related violence.
19. That consideration be given to local government authorities including in their planning process, strategies for the safe development and ongoing control of alcohol and hospitality industries in their municipalities. Such policies should involve design guidelines and site planning for the reduction of alcohol-related violence in or around licensed premises and in public places. These should include:
- updating, of planning schemes to coincide with modern licensing terminology and the provision of a system for safety auditing for the built environment;
- a process which emphasises community participation for determining the control of drinking in public places in order to reduce alcohol-related violence; and
- the involvement of community consultative committees to address problems of alcohol-related violence.
The objective of the involvement in local government in relation to licensing matters is to take advantage of the benefits of a vibrant hospitality and alcohol industry but at the same time to protect community interest by minimising the extent of alcohol-related violence or harm.
20. That alcohol and hospitality industry bodies join with State and Territory planning authorities and local government in the development of urban-design principles and building standards for safety in and around licensed premises and venues.
21. That where 'dry areas' are introduced by regulation or legislation into any municipality or designated area it should be ensured they are part of a central strategic approach to the reduction of violence in the community, supported by a range of community sectors, rather than as aBack to index
single-issue reaction to some perceived social problems where discrimination can become the end result.
22. That there be a public-transport policy that provides safe and timely transport:
- available to patrons of nightclubs or late-night licensed venues;
- part of the operational plan for the holding of major public events; and
- responsive to the transport needs of events that involve the use of public places.
23. That community policing methods and policies based on a collaborative problem solving approach in dealing with alcohol-related violence be applied in States and Territories. This approach would involve:
- use of police-community consultative committees;
- use of liquor-consultative committees involving individual licensees and licensing authorities;
- targeting of 'hot spots' or problem areas if the community-based strategy is not successful;
- better education of the police in the liquor-licensing laws; and
- a visible police presence designed to prevent problems.
24. The development of a Major Events Unit in States and Territories, responsible for coordinating police operations at public events and collaborating with promoters, other agencies and the community in the staging of such events, trained in recognising and handling the situational and environmental factors that may cause alcohol-related violence, should be considered.
Guidelines should be developed about the number of police required at public events, so that a determination of the numbers of police that should be paid for by the event promoter, the number that the police view as necessary for public safety and the number of additional security staff that may be required can be made.Back to index
25. That further research by police, liquor-licensing authorities and the alcohol industry into the development of strategies that can be used to control violence associated with the consumption of takeaway alcohol at public events or at public places should be undertaken.
26. That a major piece of collaborative research exploring the benefit:cost ratios of safe and responsible management practices in the alcohol service industry should be undertaken.
27. That alcohol and hospitality industry bodies participate in the process and funding of the analysis of the economic impact of responsible service of alcohol and risk assessment practices in the industry.
28. That peak alcohol and hospitality industry bodies, such as the Australian Hotels Association, at the national and State levels, take part in policy development aimed at eliminating alcohol-related violence in and around licensed premises, at public events and public places.Back to index