RACP concerned over refusal to increase number of medical experts on the Newcastle Committee overseeing licensed venue trials
1 July 2021
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is seriously concerned about limited representation of medical experts on the Newcastle Committee that oversees licensed venue trials. This is especially worrying for a policy area that has significant impacts on community health and wellbeing.
Following a letter to Chair Mark Latham regarding its concerns, RACP spokesperson and President of the Australasian Chapter of Addiction Medicine Professor Nicholas Lintzeris has been told that the Committee has made provisions for only one health representative out of the 22 Committee members.
Professor Lintzeris says, “We have serious concerns over the insufficient participation of medical experts in the work of the Committee.
“Alcohol has serious impacts on community health. It’s been a huge oversight to exclude an addiction specialist from the Committee. They would be instrumental to guiding the Committee in understanding the real risks of winding back the existing regulations.”
Minister Dominello announced that 24 Newcastle venues will participate in a 12-month trial of relaxing the current measures from 1 July. It is part of the ongoing push to gradually extend alcohol trading hours and remove other restrictions across Newcastle.
The RACP has previously written to Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes regarding the risks of easing the current restrictions, with an increase in alcohol-related violence a major concern.
RACP spokesperson and President-Elect of the Chapter of Addiction Medicine and a Newcastle-based addiction medicine physician Professor Adrian Dunlop says, “Ensuring the continuity of high-quality clinical expertise and policy knowledge on alcohol related harms is crucial in supporting important decision-making that affects the community.”
Despite the positive outcomes of the regulations1, a 2019 NSW Population Health Survey found that 39.7 per cent of adults over 16 in the Hunter New England Local Health District were consuming alcohol at levels posing a long-term risk to their health2.
“The balance amongst Committee representatives must be fair. This is contestable when you look at who is currently on the Committee. We understand the membership is not set in stone and appeal to the Minister and Mr Latham to rethink their decision.
“Discussions involving the health and safety risks involved in easing restrictions should not be limited to a sole medical representative. They need to be guided by evidence and expertise to account for the ways that access to and consumption of alcohol can have detrimental effects on the community.”
- Kypri K, McElduff P, Miller P. Restrictions in pub closing times and lockouts in Newcastle, Australia five years on. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2014 May;33(3):323-6. doi: 10.1111/dar.12123. Epub 2014 Mar 3. PMID: 24589092.
- Kypri, K., McElduff, P., and Miller, P. (2016) Night-time assaults in Newcastle 6–7 years after trading hour restrictions. Drug Alcohol Rev, 35: E1– E2. doi: 10.1111/dar.12342.
- Alcohol consumption at levels posing long term risk to health by Local Health District, persons aged 16 years and over, 2019, NSW Population Health Survey (SAPHaRI). Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health