By Andy Young
The Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee has published its interim report into the need for a nationally consistent approach to alcohol-related violence.
Headed by Queensland senator, Glen Lazarus the committee looked at the need for a nationally consistent approach to address and reduce alcohol-related violence that could be developed and delivered by the Federal Government together with all state and territory governments.
The election called by Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull means that the committee had to publish the interim report as it has been disbanded with the dissolution of parliament.
In its report the committee recommended: “In the event that the committee is unable to conclude its inquiry during the current Parliament, the committee recommends that the 45th Parliament re-refer the matter of a nationally consistent approach to alcohol-related violence to the relevant committee for further inquiry and report.”
One particular aspect that the committee did determine on was the terminology that should be used, as the inquiry’s Terms of Reference referred to both “alcohol-fuelled violence” and “alcohol-related violence”.
Many of the submissions to the inquiry highlighted the importance of using the right language in this regard, with some arguing for totally different terminology to be used.
Step Back Think (SBT), a not-for-profit and anti-violence organisation, supported the term “social violence” which it defined as “interpersonal physical violence that occurs in a community setting, such as a one-punch assault, pub brawl or street fight.”
SBT claimed using this term would both "emphasise the social and cultural elements of this type of violence" as well as "identify that social violence is a specific type of violence". SBT preferred this term because it does not distinguish between violence caused by alcohol or by drugs.
Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) opposed the term “alcohol-fuelled violence” because “alcohol does not ‘fuel’ violence”. ABA added: "This mislabelling of violence as 'alcohol-fuelled' contributes to increased rates of violence because it lessens responsibility from the violent perpetrator for their actions: they are not held fully accountable for their behaviour because the alcohol is seen to have been the cause or 'fuel'."
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) also dismissed the term instead arguing for the use of “anger-fuelled violence”. The AHA submitted: "The term alcohol-fuelled violence inaccurately lays the blame for this criminal behaviour at the foot of the alcohol industry instead of with the violent criminals that commit it."
Stephen Ferguson, AHA’s CEO told TheShout: “We are satisfied that the term ‘fuelled’ has been removed. The term ‘related’ shows that there many other factors involved than just alcohol in any offence. The use of alcohol fuelled is completely misleading and it is good that the committee has recognised that.”