Watering down alcohol harm reduction measures in Newcastle a dangerous cocktail mix: AChAM

Date published:
16 Feb 2021

The RACP is concerned about the gradual, sustained erosion of alcohol harm minimisation measures in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.  

The President of the Australasian Chapter of Addiction Medicine (AChAM), Professor Nick Lintzeris, recently wrote to Ms Nuatali Nelmes, Lord Mayor of Newcastle, to urge her to:

  • rethink the ongoing push to extend alcohol trading hours in the city
  • address the lack of involvement of local government and health experts in decision-making
  • acknowledge the likely harms of increased trading hours to the community.  

In late 2020, the City of Newcastle Council and Liquor and Gaming NSW initiated a six-month trial that extends alcohol trading hours of 26 small bars and restaurants in the CBD to 2am and 12am respectively. The ostensible goal of the trial is to investigate the effect of the extended hours on the night-time economy. In early 2021, the push to relax trading restrictions has been bolstered via a Destination Management Plan for the city, which implies that the city’s economy will not be viable without extended drinking hours.  

The civic arrangements established to supervise and evaluate the process do not include community voices, medical experts and emergency workers, raising serious concerns over the objective and independent nature of the consultation.    

This is of major concern to the RACP and AChAM, as we have consistently urged the retention of the trading hours restrictions in Newcastle. Robust evidence from Australia and internationally shows that decreasing availability of alcohol through reducing trading hours reduces alcohol-related harm. Evaluations of the Newcastle scheme as well as of similar arrangements in Sydney and Brisbane have shown again and again that shorter trading hours mean healthier and safer communities and reduced impact on the health and policing sectors.  

The RACP will continue to fight to reduce alcohol-related harm. Any members inspired to work with us on this and related initiatives, please email Dorota Sacha-Krol, RACP Senior Policy & Advocacy Officer. 

Learn more about the RACP’s advocacy in alcohol matters

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