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St Vincent’s dismayed by extension of ‘last drinks’ and bottle shop hours

November 2019

St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney has expressed dismay at the NSW Government’s decision to extend ‘last drinks’ to 3.30am in the CBD and allow bottle shops an extra hour of trade in its official response to the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Sydney's Night Time Economy (the ‘lockout laws review’).

The hospital – which has long been an advocate for the measures which have dramatically reduced alcohol-related violence and saved lives – said it was concerned that both extending ‘last drinks’ and bottle shop trading hours will lead to more injuries and assaults.

“After five years of these laws keeping people safe from alcohol-related harms, this is a very disappointing conclusion,” said St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney’s Director of Emergency, Dr Paul Preisz.

“All the evidence tells us, here and overseas, that for every extra hour alcohol is sold, there is a corresponding increase in harm.

“While we’re glad to see the NSW Government has not accepted the Committee’s recommendation to completely remove the 3.00am cessation of service for licensed venues in the CBD, a half hour extension is still an extension. 

“More alcohol equals more harm, we can’t be clearer than that.

“We’re equally concerned about increasing bottle shop trading hours. It means bottle shop trade will have been extended by two hours since the suite of ‘lockout law’ measures were first introduced in 2014.

“Alcohol is a significant contributor to family violence in Australia. For every 10,000 additional litres of pure alcohol sold at a packaged liquor outlet, the risk of violence experienced in a residential setting increases by 26 per cent.[1]Alcohol increases both the likelihood of family violence occurring and the severity of harms.[2]

“At St Vincent’s we’re also seeing an increasing number of alcohol-related presentations at our ED that involve alcohol purchased from bottle shops. Almost half of the people attending our ED who reported consuming alcohol in the preceding 12 hours purchased their product from a packaged liquor outlet.

“I note that the Government will be monitoring these changes, to be re-evaluated in 12 months’ time. I can assure you that St Vincent’s will also be keeping an eye on the impact of these changes and will keep the Government and public informed,” said Dr Preisz.

Media contact: David Faktor 0405 497 510

[1] Liang, W., Chikritzhs, T. (2011) Revealing the link between licensed outlets and violence: counting venues versus measuring alcohol availability. Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.

[2] The range and magnitude of alcohol’s harm to others, FARE, 2010

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