Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

News

  • Written by Jason Ferris, Associate Professor, Program Leader for Research and Statistical Support Service and Program Leader for Substance Use and Mental Health, Centre for Health Services Research, The University of Queensland

This is the second in a series of articles discussing a recently released comprehensive evaluation of the Queensland government’s 2016 policy reforms to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence and the implications for liquor regulation and the night-time economy in Queensland and Australia. A summary report is also available.

Our evaluation of the Queensland government’s 2016 “Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence” (TAFV) policy has found Queenslanders are still drinking more heavily than people in other states when going out at night.

Despite significant reductions in serious assaults and other health-related outcomes, reported levels of aggression are also high.

Read more: Lessons from Queensland on alcohol, violence and the night-time economy

Queenslanders report much higher levels of aggression than reported in our previous studies, which asked the same question in Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Wollongong, Geelong and Newcastle.

Queenslanders are among our heaviest drinkers on nights out, and changing that culture is a challenge Table 1. Percentage of interviewees who report being involved in aggression in and around night-time entertainment precincts in the previous three months. QUANTEM final report, Author provided

Female patrons reported experiencing more of all types of aggression than men across all precincts. The next article in this series highlights the worrying number of women who experience unwanted sexual attention while out.

To measure the impact of the 2016 policy changes on alcohol consumption, illicit drug use and aggression, our research teams conducted street intercept surveys on Saturday nights in Fortitude Valley (Brisbane), Surfers Paradise and Cairns between 2016 and 2018. All participants were breathalysed. Every fifth person was invited to participate in a saliva drug swab.

Across the precincts, 4,401 people – 57% of them male – completed surveys.

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC)

Half of patrons’ blood alcohol concentration (BAC in g/dL) readings were over 0.077 (the median value, with a range of 0.000-0.300) in Fortitude Valley, 0.086 (range 0.000-0.290) in Surfers Paradise and 0.087 (range 0.000-0.289) in Cairns. The highest reading, 0.300, is six times the legal driving limit.

These median BAC levels are much higher than other, previously studied cities. The results highlight the challenges of achieving change in Queensland’s drinking culture.

Queenslanders are among our heaviest drinkers on nights out, and changing that culture is a challenge Table 2. Patrons’ median blood alcohol concentration (BAC in g/dL) and range of readings. QUANTEM final report, Author provided

Interestingly, most patrons are more drunk than they think they are. Before undertaking a breath test patrons were asked to guess their level of intoxication. For example, in Cairns, patrons’ median guess of their BAC reading was 0.070, compared to the measured median of 0.087.

Pre-drinking

High alcohol consumption when going out to night-time entertainment precincts includes pre-drinking (drinking at home before going out; also known as pre-gaming, pre-partying or pre-loading in other countries). As our research teams have documented since 2012, pre-drinking has continued to increase.

With 84% of all patrons reporting pre-drinking before going out, Queensland shows higher levels than in most other previously studied cities.

Overall, male patrons drank significantly more than female patrons when pre-drinking. In Fortitude Valley, though, female patrons were significantly more likely to pre-drink than males.

Read more: Women's alcohol consumption catching up to men: why this matters

It’s a common belief that patrons choose to pre-drink to avoid buying more expensive drinks while they’re out in bars or clubs. But we found patrons who reported pre-drinking were more likely to drink more heavily across the night. They also reported drinking for longer than those who did not pre-drink.

Our report also shows the rate of pre-drinking across the precincts remained mostly stable in the two years after the TAFV policy was introduced in 2016. This suggests it did not affect rates of pre-drinking.

Illicit drug use

Rates of self-reported illicit drug use varied between precincts, from 13% of patrons in Fortitude Valley to 25% of all patrons in Surfers Paradise.

Ecstasy was the most commonly used illicit substance reported by patrons (5.5%), followed by cannabis (4%).

Among those who completed saliva drug swabs, the most commonly detected substances were amphetamines in Fortitude Valley and Cairns. In Surfers Paradise, however, it was methamphetamine; with 23.5% of patrons interviewed in Surfers Paradise testing positive for the substance.

Although rates of illicit drug use fluctuated in the two years after the TAFV policy was introduced, overall rates remained largely stable. This indicates the policy did not result in a clear increase or decrease in illicit drug use.

Read more: Fact check: only drugs and alcohol together cause violence

So what does it all mean?

Historically, Queensland has high levels of harmful consumption of alcohol, especially in high-risk groups. Around 46% of Queenslanders have exceeded single-occasion risk guidelines in the past year, higher than in New South Wales and Victoria.

There has been significant investment in education campaigns across social media and in schools. Despite this, Queenslanders continue to show hazardous levels of alcohol consumption, illicit drug use and experiences of aggression.

Changing cultural patterns relating to pre-drinking and alcohol-related harms will not be easy. Previous research suggests further tightening of licensed venues’ trading hours will help. Our report recommendations include introducing a minimum unit price on alcohol and promoting low-risk drinking guidelines at all points of sale across Queensland.

Our report also recommends trialling live music early in the night to try to bring people into entertainment districts earlier.

Despite the promising results of government policy efforts to date, our evaluation suggests the work to reduce alcohol-related harm across Queensland is not finished.

Read more: FactCheck: can you change a violent drinking culture by changing how people drink?

Authors: Jason Ferris, Associate Professor, Program Leader for Research and Statistical Support Service and Program Leader for Substance Use and Mental Health, Centre for Health Services Research, The University of Queensland

Read more http://theconversation.com/queenslanders-are-among-our-heaviest-drinkers-on-nights-out-and-changing-that-culture-is-a-challenge-121115

INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

The Conversation

Politics

Scott Morrison on Credlin

PETA CREDLIN: Thank you for your time tonight, PM I know you've got a lot on your plate. I'll get to the issue of bushfires in just a moment, but I can't let it go unremarked that with Australia Day...

Peta Credlin - avatar Peta Credlin

Scott Morrison interview with Ray Hadley

RAY HADLEY: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: G’day Ray.    HADLEY: Jeez you copped a hammering while I was away.   PRIME MINISTER: Goes with the job mate.    HADLEY: Well, yo...

Ray Hadley - avatar Ray Hadley

Immediate small business support for bushfire affected communities

In response to the devastating bushfires, the Morrison Government has today announced a comprehensive suite of measures to immediately support impacted small businesses.    This initial package ...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

2019 Hottest FinTech Startups Overview

Modern technology is experiencing rapid growth, so many industries expect a so-called revolution, and the financial world is no exception. Over the past ten years, people have witnessed the emergence ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Australians need to look out for this US Crypto-platform

Good news for Aussie sports fans as UssCyber is soon to launch its very own crypto-currency sports trading platform. UssCyber, a blockchain-oriented company based in Florida, is introducing “World S...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Choose the Right Data Recovery Solution for your Business

In the modern business environment, data is one of the most important commodities. A typical B2C seller, for instance, offering home delivery service cannot deliver the product to the right addres...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

The Family Travel Handbook from Lonely Planet

Everything you need to know to take unforgettable trips with your children   Full of practical advice, ideas and inspiration for every type of family, Lonely Planet's The Family Travel Handbook ...

Adam Bennett - avatar Adam Bennett

3 Ideas for a Family-Friendly Holiday to Bali

A family holiday is always an exciting time, but it can often come with its fair share of challenges, especially when trying to keep every member of the family happy. Thankfully, the beautiful islan...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Best Things to Do in Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills has long been a relaxing escape for the people of Adelaide and beyond. Its proximity to the capital makes it an accessible destination that feels like you’re miles away from the hustl...

News Company - avatar News Company

ShowPo