A Day of Shame for Victoria, Australia

28/02/2013

Assaults in Victoria, Australia have increased by 15.4 per cent! Recall that 70% of all assaults are alcohol related. Hundreds more people have been bashed in the financial interests of Big Liquor! How many have been permanently maimed? Scarred for life? Traumatized? Recall that 100s of more police have been added to the Vic Police Payroll – but the root cause of this violence has not yet been tackled let alone beaten. Commercialized Binge Drinking reigns supreme over the common human decency demanded of our civic leaders by the very responsibility of their roles. Only weak, ineffective measures are given the go ahead down here. That is why the innocents will continue to suffer. This is a day of shame in Victoria. A Day of Shame!


Four Corners program promo claims pollies have taken the crackers…

23/02/2013

Four Corners are promoting a report Punch Drunk by Janine Cohen and Karen Michelmore to be broadcast ABC1 Monday 25/02/2013 at 8.30 pm and repeated Tuesday 26th at 11.35 pm on ABC 1. Also on Saturdays at 8.00pm on News24.

From the promo:

“We are not facing a crisis, we’re in a crisis. It’s occurring right now.”

Read the statistics and it’s hard to argue with these dire warnings. The latest figures show that each year as many as 70,000 people are involved in alcohol-related assaults. In all, it is estimated that alcohol-related violence costs the community $187 million each year. Four Corners also reveals there’s a growing body of evidence that shows a link between binge drinking and brain damage. As one expert explained:

“You will face assault, you will assault, you will have falls. You will find yourself with a brain injury as a result of the long-term use of alcohol.”

While the overall incidence of alcohol-related violent crime varies in each state in Australia, one thing is clear: the violence associated with alcohol abuse is getting more extreme. Indeed one key judicial figure has taken the unusual step of opening his court to the cameras and telling Four Corners:

“One day someone is going to sit down and weigh up the benefit in terms of taxes to government from the sale of alcohol, against the detriment or the cost to governments of servicing the consequences of violence.”

The reporter’s pose: “Why is Government backing away from a fight with the Alcohol Industry?”

Expert answers: “They’ve donated quite large amounts of money to political parties – on both sides.”

That sounds plausible! This should be an interesting show.


Telegraph’s Tim Blair floats Pedestrian 08 Policy on line

25/09/2012

And unfortunately doesn’t go into any detail about the four key components of the policy:

  1. All venues to have available, near blood test quality, audio visually capable, BAC Testing Machines for self testing by alcohol users.
  2. A simple, easy to understand limit on where “Responsible Drinking” ends, put into law.
  3. 80% of the program budget spent on educating users about staying under Point 08, and the risks of binge drinking.
  4. 20% of the program budget spent on targeted, on street, pedestrian RBT.

No information given letting readers know that only campaigns with a hard legal edge work! (WHO)

No information about the failure of RSA nor the litany of tragic outcomes from this failure of government policy.

No information about how P-RBT could routinely detect and divert, underage alcohol users, goon baggers – nor how it would clean up Kings Cross, other Sydney and NSW trouble spots, including public transport.

It’s not serious is it? Just an absence of facts about a deadly serious subject.

Meanwhile, Healthland reports this finding:

Exposure to alcohol in utero leads to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in about 40,000 newborns every year in the U.S.

And:

For every one additional drink the mothers consumed between their 43rd and 84th days of pregnancy, their babies had a 16% greater chance of being born smaller than average, which may put them at greater risk for mental and physical problems. Their infants were also more likely to have birth defects, such as a 25% higher risk of a smooth ridge linking the nose and upper lip, a 12% increased risk of an abnormally small head and a 22% greater chance of unusually thin upper lips.

Which would undoubtedly be of great concern to some challenged individuals at this blog


US Navy – Have the guts to do what’s required to succeed. What’s wrong with us?

09/03/2012

As part of their duties, the US Navy and US Marines Senior Officers regularly put those under their command in harms way. They do this as a matter of routine.

Yet they routinely minimize risk – where they see it – and can do something about it!

In short they value life! Can we say the same Australia’s Civilian “Commanders” in jurisdictions such as the city councils of Australia’s Capital Cities and Australia’s State Government Premiers?

Can we say the same for the Governments of the UK and others?

Can we say the same for the leadership of Australia’s Defence Force (ADF)?

USS Virginia

US Nuke Subs have Missiles, Super Computers, Torpedoes and now Breathalyzers!

The US Navy and Marines have evaluated various solutions and found what we discovered decades ago. The most effective behaviour changing process you can invent to beat the scourge of binge drinking-alcohol fueled violence and pedestrian deaths is via Random Breath Testing (BAC Testing).

From the online edition of the Wall Street Journal, first printed on 6th March,  2012, headed Navy, Marines to Start Random Alcohol Tests, by Nathan Hodge, I present these quotes:

The Navy and Marines said Monday they plan to introduce random breath tests of personnel on duty as part of a broader health-and-safety push…

And:

The U.S. military already randomly tests members of all branches for illegal drug use. But resorting to breath tests—which detect blood alcohol levels from a breath sample—represents a first for military personnel.

And:

Some Navy crew members, for instance, will have to take a breath test when reporting aboard a ship for duty and other sailors will be subjected to random inspections.

And as part of their prior testing of RBT methods:

The Navy’s submarine fleet in the Pacific has already experimented with a pilot breath-test program that began in 2009. Officials say that program led to a 45% decrease in alcohol-related incidents, such as arrests for driving [cars!] under the influence.

US Nuke Sub Torpedo Room

US Nuclear Submarine Torpedo Room. Every finger on every button belongs to a sober, drug free serviceman or woman.

We have no immediate feedback on how many Submarine to Submarine collisions were avoided…

Note, in Australia we have a long history of proving the targeted effectiveness of RBT via our motorist targeted Point 05 Campaign which has saved hundreds of lives in the process.

Confusingly, a recent Defense Force Inquiry found that

alcohol use is common among ADF personnel and … there is also a high prevalence of drinking at hazardous levels. …this situation has existed in the ADF for a
considerable time, despite some commendable efforts to comprehensively address it over the years.”

Comment: Commendable Efforts don’t cut it. People, including civilians are regularly dying whilst these “Commendable Efforters” fail to hit a cultural change target.
(Just ask family and friends of victims of HMAS Cerberus – a major cultural trend setter training base in Victoria, Australia.
And:

26.4% of ADF members report consuming alcohol at hazardous or harmful
levels. …risky drinking in the ADF is an important contributor to
alcohol related harm

Comment, a quick read proves where the major attention of the defence force chiefs will be drawn:

…an analysis of the volume of negative television, radio and press
coverage of the ADF and its personnel in relation to alcohol found that in 2010–2011 there
were 2,666 such reports, which reached a cumulative potential audience of 81,159,239 and
had an advertising space rate of $4,445,812. This was a 347% increase from 2009–2010

And paid spin doctors, get typing on your response to a likely Tender:

Any explicit communication strategy can be readily undermined by adverse counter messages
and in this context the Panel advises the ADF to develop an organisation-wide policy on
alcohol industry sponsorship and promotion of ADF people, units, and events that has a
specific intent of reducing alcohol related harm

Comment: ADF personel could use their common sense, review what The US Navy submariners have found, and do what they do, and add more measures.
(ADF: No charge for that advice…)

Meanwhile, in a tale of how hard it is to put across a message of so-called “safe” alcohol consumption,  Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council’s new guidelines are known by only 5% of respondents (source: research conducted by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research)

Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Note that the “safe” is a relative term. The World Health Organisation long ago found there was no known safe level of drinking.
(Remember that alcohol is toxic, carcinogenic, teratogenic and addictive. It cannot ever be absolutely safe for all users at any recommended level.)

Study author Michael Livingston should consider the idea of adapting Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) findings and translate the size and type of drink recommendations to BAC Levels – Over Time.

The Pedestrian 08 policy includes the mandatory installation of BAC Testing machines (breathalysers), at a set ratio to the number of clients in the venue, so that any alcohol user will have immediate access to a testing machine. Saving yet more motorists from unintentional drunk driving (BAC 0.05) and for “drink-walking” (BAC 0.08). Providing an extra lines of defense for motorists via self-initiated, in venue BAC testing; Police initiated Pedestrian RBT (P-RBT) – picking up those who, with an affected judgement, intend to drive; as well as picking up those offending against new P-RBT limits.

It would be a minor matter of programming to enable the user’s test sample and time entered to give the user instant feedback on how the users current BAC Level fits into the NHMRC guidelines – via the audio-visual capabilities of BAC Testing machines.

An example expression given in both written (Multi-languages) and with an accompanying spoken word may include: “You have a BAC of naught point O 8. You are over this jurisdictions Pedestrian BAC limit. For your own safety and to avoid being fined, please remain in your licensed Liquor Venue for at least another 20 mins. Let your friendly bar staff know. Please re-check your BAC level prior to leaving. Your BAC level indicates an intake well in excess of National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines. Try and avoid any more alcohol intake for 2-3 days. [a short blurb to state the modified, BAC/Time variant of NHMRC guidelines to follow].”*

* It would be good to get feedback on this idea. It gives you an idea of the potential for in venue BAC testing, how a stated BAC law will provoke (in fact guarantee) a general user awareness of their BAC level at all times whilst engaged in use of alcohol. The same Breathalysers / Breathalyzers can serve an educative role for broad liquor consumption guidelines and give specific feedback on where the user’s breath test fit’s them into the practice of the same guidelines.


Can $450k per year change your eyesight, hearing and policy options?

19/03/2011

Although her police and ambulance officers and A & E staff are getting bashed most nights by the alcohol afflicted, NSW Premier Kristina Keneally recently said “wowsers” to Scott Weber, the NSW Police Union, Ambulance Paramedics and their colleagues, the Doctors, Nurses and Security Staff at our Accident and Emergency Departments.

As Scott rightly pointed out in his Punch Article, Who are you calling a wowser Kristina?:

The facts speak for themselves.

  • Alcohol-related violent incidents are growing by over 6 per cent a year;
    The number of paramedics assaulted a year has increased by over 60 per cent since 2006-07;
  • There were 2,855 assaults against police in NSW;
  • And it’s estimated that 70 per cent of these assaults against police were alcohol-related.
  • But Premier Keneally cannot see these statistics, hear the cries of the victims nor speak ill of the perpetrators – Big Liquor.

    Getting BAC Testing into the survey options list
    An interesting survey at Adelaide Now.

    5.3% doesn’t look much, but, some of our now successful political parties and politicians started with less…

    Democracy Doesn’t Come Cheap!
    New MatildaI suggest you read Norman Thompson’s article on NSW party political funding in New Matilda.

    A Quote for those too busy to click:

    In the past 10 years while Labor has been in power, the AHA and hotels companies have contributed over $4.5 million to the NSW ALP. The Coalition only managed to obtain a little over $2 million during this period.

    Every alcohol dollar given to Labor, Liberals and others in NSW was based on Addiction and or Binge Drinking. That’s the rub. That’s why funding of political parties by the purveyors of addictive substances is so wrought with moral dilemmas. Have no doubt, the money received was based to a large degree on the grief of addicts and their families and the strangers they hit, hurt, killed or injured.

    Obviously, this sort of spending would cause ructions in any association. But as a former AHA President said: “Democracy doesn’t come cheap!”. And here.

    Spending $450 k a year on most things can go a long way to achieving your aims.

    What’s this got to do with Pedestrian 08?

    It’s important to realise the connections between Big Liquor, Advertising, Sponsorship, Media Involvement, Politicians and political parties and the fact that laws and regulations are written to INCREASE binge drinking. Thereby creating a greater need for pedestrian 08.


    Election news: was on Adelaide Radio with Carol Whitlock – profit over life

    11/11/2010

    I just finished an interview with Carol and listeners. Thanks for that Carol.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Millions and millions of Australians are his target

    15/10/2010

    Almost choked on my flat white when I read this blurt in todays Age:

    ”I’ve got to sell over a billion beers next year, I can’t do that just through social media. It’s got to be highly engaging and participatory, but I’ve also got to reach millions and millions of Australians.”

    And:

    “TV is not as effective as it used to be, less people are watching it, there are more channels. But, sadly, in my opinion 10,000 Facebook friends can’t be the answer to selling over a billion beers.”

    One can only guess at the number of cancers caused by the success of such an ambition…
    Or the number of women and children bashed, abused, killed and injured.
    The number of one punch homicides, the cases of illnesses and addictions caused.
    Probably not on this bozo’s radar…
    Let’s hope this guy hasnt got the IQ to succeed.
    Let’s hope his efforts leave as many children as unaffected as possible.
    How many would be sucked in by his company’s Facebook and social media campaigns?
    How many by sporting sponsorships, TV ads during various grand finals, ads everywhere else?
    You can read the full article here: Irresistible lure of driving us to drink – great work Clare.
    And you can see a kind of Drinkwise like site here at his boss’s head office somewhere in Europe – DRINKIQ – not sure where it is based, taxation being such a complex issue…
    And here is an analysis of the lengths Big Liquor will go to, to get the kids involved as young as possible.
    Have a look at the thinking behind these campaigns. The researchers here had to resort to diagramming the relationships between all elements.
    That’s behaviour changing plotting on a large, large scale. All bases are covered – there is no possible escape from their influence.
    I’m sure any and every boy or girl drinking toxic, addictive and carcinogenic alcohol, was not the intent of the Facebook and Social Media campaigns alluded to above.
    Nor would such an unfortunate eventuality be anywhere on the Federal Health Minister’s mind, memory or conscious.
    They have the power to immediately stop this sort of ambition coming to pass.
    One can only question why a funded political party would blanch for more than a nano second to put a stop to this murderous nonsense…
    What’s wrong with these people?
    Banning alcohol promotion isnt prohibition – its’ common sense.
    Alcohol advertising doesnt make for Responsible Drinking.


    Press at its worst – normalising the binge

    04/11/2009
    HS_PENBERTHY_20091104

    David Penberthy's article

    I wonder if David Penberthy has read one word of research on alcohol? Or is he relying solely on the ultimate anecdotal evidence of all – his own drinking?
    We have an epidemic of binge drinking including  a spike in children receiving brain damage from alcohol, out of control rates of alcohol related violence, and we see Penberthy stating that ‘a boozy day at the races’ is a ‘truly excellent feature of life in Australia’.
    He then falls into ostracising ‘hardcore halfwits’ for the crime of being out of control whilst consuming a disinhibiting drug designed just to do that – put you out of control.

    Ostracising the victims of alcohol is a well trodden path for the spruikers of binge drinking. In fact the British Medical Association latest report on alcohol marketing notes this technique as being one of the many marketing methods used in Big Liquor’s 600 million pound Under the Line marketing program. That is, the marketing efforts not visible to the public.

    Our Victorian Government has failed to adopt sensible harm minimisation measures such as a ban on alcohol marketing, a min age of 21 for alcohol purchase and consumption or a maximum drink walking limit of 08.They cannot explain in one phrase at what point responsible drinking ends. Millions of dollars spent, no knowledge transferred.
    Our government, media and community leaders need to stop getting into bed with Big Liquor and start thinking of them as the enemy. They are not a harmless bunch of business people going about a harmless, fun activity. Their stuff indiscriminately kills, maims and injures.

    In the context of this environment, how many negative, unconsciously destructive attitudes can one writer pump into an article about controlling the booze? To find out click here.


    Queensland Police Union Submission misses a major point

    02/11/2009

    The Queensland Police Union have released their submission to the Inquiry of the Law, Justice and Safety Committee of the Queensland Parliament on Alcohol-Related Violence in Queensland. The main recommendation is to restrict nightclub hours until 2am and suburban hotels to 12 midnight.

    Well done, although some might argue for even shorter hours and greater limits to the number of outlets selling liquor after hours would be a good thing.  And why get involved in Big Event Boozing? Why get sucked into continuing to allow Big Liquor to profit from Big Events and continue to push the association of  ‘any excuse’ with binge drinking? This is what has occurred in Victoria and Queensland needs to make no concessions on liquor opening hours on the excuse of an event.

    Great statistics and facts are provided such as:

    1. 50-70% of all police work is associated in some way with alcohol
    2. 60% of all alcohol-related incidents attended by police occur on or within sight of licensed premises
    3. 60% of all police attendances and 90% of late night calls [involve] alcohol Read the rest of this entry »

    World renowned expert backs efficacy of 08 limit

    30/10/2009

    One of the privileges of working in this area is speaking with dedicated and driven researchers and academics who have literally devoted their lives to helping governments, organisations and individuals deal with the binge drinking menace.

    One such individual is Professor Robin Room. Prof Room is Professor of Social Alcohol Research in the School of Population Health of the University of Melbourne and is Director, AER Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.  Prof Room has a list of publications and research papers quite literally longer than this writer’s, right arm.  See list here!

    In a conversation taking place whilst the Victorian State Government grants yet more liquor licences to yet more vertical drinking spaces, Prof Room was asked:

    ‘Would a pedestrian 08 limit have an effect on the amount of violence in our city?’

    Prof Room stated:

    ‘If you could bring it in, and if you could effectively enforce it, it would substantially reduce violence in our city. It would substantially reduce the violence.’

    Prof Room displayed no hesitation in stating this. None at all. It was clearly an obvious conclusion to a researcher in his field.

    Take this on notice. If you want to immediately halt alcohol related violence in your city, innovate an 08 limit.

    We need to bring to an end organised binge drinking as soon as humanly possible.

    See rationale behind the campaign here

    See blog entries, including responses to media articles and government policies here.


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