City of Cockburn has sober reaction to WA alcohol study

A Curtin University report looks at alcohol-related harms across WA electoral districts.
A Curtin University report looks at alcohol-related harms across WA electoral districts.

THE City of Cockburn says it will not read too much into recent figures highlighting alcohol-related harm in WA.

In February, Curtin University released the Alcohol-related Harms in Western Australian Electoral Districts report, believing it would allow candidates for lower house seats “to base prevention and harm-reduction policies on the best available data”.

Of the seats overlaying the City of Cockburn, Fremantle had an estimated 548 alcohol-related serious assaults during the hours of 10pm and 6am between 2010 and 2013.

Serious assaults included aggravated assault, attempted murder, manslaughter, murder and driving causing death.

Next was the seat of Cockburn with 137 reports, with Kwinana close behind with 128.

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The Perth electorate recorded the highest amount of alcohol-caused assaults with 1709 reports.

But how much that could be garnered from the report remains a matter of opinion, with researchers saying the figures were limited due to the way they were recorded.

“Where a postcode or suburb crossed over multiple electoral districts, the data associated with the postcode or suburb was included for each electoral district,” the report stated.

Cockburn’s environmental health manager Nick Jones said the City would not read too much into the report.

“The report doesn’t provide a commentary on any comparison between the statistics from different electoral districts. Therefore it is difficult to draw any conclusions,” he said.

“Each time a person applies for a new liquor licence they are required to provide a Public Interest Assessment Report (PIAR) to accompany the planning application, and for their liquor licence application.

“Within the PIAR, the applicant is required to provide statistics similar to those captured in the Curtin report.”

He said PIARs lodged over the past five years did not indicate there was a problem with alcohol related assaults linked to locally licensed premises such as bars and restaurants.

“The City of Cockburn does not have an entertainment district such as Perth, Fremantle or Subiaco, therefore our licensed premises are not congregated in the same area,” he said.

“The City is monitoring the number of bottle shops to ensure there is not a proliferation of these outlets in every suburb.”

Despite this, McCusker Centre executive officer and Curtin Research Fellow Julia Stafford said the estimates show that alcohol harm was a significant problem across the State.

“Future reports will seek to build on these estimates and provide additional indicators of alcohol harms,” she said.

Alcohol Beverages Australia executive director Fergus Taylor disagreed.

“The fact remains that no credible evidence exists that alcohol causes violence, and recent figures actually show a decrease in alcohol-related violent incidents in WA during a period of increased liquor licences across the State,” he said.