By Andy Young
Earlier this week the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) released its latest figures which showed that the number of non-domestic assaults in suburbs surrounding the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross lockout zone have increased since the laws were introduced in 2014.
However the Newtown Liquor Accord (NLA) has told TheShout that the figures do not reflect the work done to improve the suburb’s night-time economy and the voluntary measures introduced by licensed venues in the area.
The NLA’s Richard Adamson told TheShout: “What they are measuring is, ‘has the problem moved?’ It certainly has moved a little bit, but nowhere near as much as the removal of the problems that were happening in Kings Cross. And that has probably got a lot to do with the offering that is in Newtown as well. It’s just completely different.
“The good outcome that Newtown has had is that we have managed the extra influx of people. Initially the number of problems did go up, but then we’ve put in the voluntary measures and had the roundtable meetings and then it came back down again.”
The Liquor Accord figures show that the number of assaults inside licensed premises is falling, so internal venue management is working, which Adamson said was also probably the case in Kings Cross as well.
“It doesn’t matter who much you put pressure on the licensed premises to deal with this stuff, a lot of people are coming in pre-loaded, not getting into venues to start with and then causing trouble on the streets.”
“The fact is that in Newtown we recognised that there were a lot more people coming here and there was the potential for it to get out of hand. So we got together as a community to try and work these things through, without any heavy-handed intervention from the State Government.
“We did a lot of training with the venue staff, we trialled having ambassadors on the streets and we are looking at how we can measure the success of the night-time economy through different measures to just patronage and assaults; so looking at things like cultural diversity and whether the community is happy about what is happening as well.”
He added: “There is still a lot of work to do, but I think that we are definitely on the right track.”