City News

More assaults in Sydney than Melbourne

On the beat: Victoria Police

The crisis around alcohol-related violence is urgent. It has led to the recent death of Thomas Kelly and left Daniel Christie in a critical condition in hospital, both attacked in the same Kings Cross street.

But is this a problem peculiar to Sydney? Does distance mean we’re unaware of the same phenomenon in Melbourne? City News took a look at the numbers in Australia’s second-largest city.

During the last financial year, Ambulance Victoria received 8824 calls to people affected by alcohol in the Melbourne metropolitan area.

“Alcohol remains the single most abused substance that paramedics are called to,” said Simon Thomson from Ambulance Victoria metro west.

Victoria Police Acting Superintendent Bernie Edwards said the police are focused upon alcohol-related violence in the Melbourne CBD with a number of measures in place to combat it.

“Police information shows that alcohol is a strong driver associated with assaults, most commonly in and around licensed premises,” Mr Edwards said.

“Victoria Police are targeting drunkenness and associated anti-social behaviour through measures including the Safe Streets Taskforce, which sees police deployed across the CBD every Friday and Saturday night,” he said.

“The City of Melbourne runs a number of initiatives to keep the community safe including Safe City Taxi ranks, CCTV patrols and has a Violence Against Women Strategy,” a spokesperson for the City of Melbourne said.

But Peter Miller, associate professor at Deakin University’s school of psychology, said Sydney has stronger measures than Melbourne, such as the alcohol restrictions for violent venues.

“Sydney’s violent venues register is a substantially better measure in terms of policy than we have in Victoria,” Mr Miller said.

Despite that, Sydney registered higher assault figures than its rival. Mr Miller conducted the Patron Offending and Intoxication in Night-time Entertainment Districts study, which compared alcohol-related behaviour and violence in five Australian cities.

After speaking with 7,000 people, Mr Miller found alcohol-related assaults were slightly higher in Sydney.

“What we can say really clearly is the cities have similar sort of levels of problems – violence wise,” he said.

“Sydney might be slightly higher in terms of the levels of assaults; so 14 per cent in Melbourne versus 19 per cent in Sydney,” he said.

Dr Bruce Bolam, Executive Manager of Programs, VicHealth said they were implementing a long-term program to fight alcohol abuse in Victoria.

“In Victoria, VicHealth and the State Government are working in partnership on a $2.6 million two-year campaign aimed at young people, which encourages a discussion about alcohol and the role it has in our lives and our culture,” he said.

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