St Patrick's Day: assaults among young people to rise this Saturday

Thursday 15 March, 2012

Research from VicHealth and Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre shows young people and males are at greater risk of alcohol-related assaults on Saturdays and on St Patrick's Day. This has prompted the Alcohol Policy Coalition to today call for tighter restrictions on alcohol promotion in the lead up to St Patrick's Day this Saturday.

"St Patrick's Day is one of the biggest social events in the year for male drunkenness and with that comes a rise in assaults of young people. This year is likely to be worse than normal because we'll have the potent mix of Saturday night and St Patrick's Day – both peak times for alcohol-related injuries, assaults and drunkenness," said Brian Vandenberg, Alcohol Manager at VicHealth.

"Given the rise in alcohol-related hospitalisations around events like St Pat's, we need to review promotions that encourage excessive consumption, such as double shots, two-for-one deals and dollar drinks."

"Point of sale promotions that encourage drinkers to purchase larger quantities can lead to heavier drinking."

The Drinking Cultures and Social Occasions report shows that St Patrick's Day in Melbourne brings:

  • a significant increase in emergency department presentations and hospital admissions due to alcohol intoxication for males
  • a significant increase in the number of assaults for all emergency department and hospital presentations for youths and males 
  • significantly higher occurrences of drunkenness for males overall.

"Government has a role to police inappropriate promotions, especially in the lead up to St Pat's Day. And retailers can also play a role in reducing the burden to emergency services and taxpayers by avoiding risky promotions."

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) has the power to ban inappropriate promotions of alcohol, such as:

  • promotions that encourage or reward the purchase of, or drinking of, large amounts of liquor in a single session or transaction
  • drinking games, competitions, dares or challenges that involve rapid or excessive consumption of liquor
  • promotions involving extreme discounts (e.g. $1 shots of spirits) or excessive periods of free drinks (e.g. $50 entry and free drinks all night)
  • using characters, imagery, designs, motifs, interactive games, merchandise or media that are likely to appeal to minors.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition is also urging people in the community to celebrate safely this St Patrick's Day.

"While most people celebrate in a safe and respectful way, unfortunately some people get caught up in drunken aggressive behaviour and that can hurt people around them. Adults can set a good example with their drinking and let young people know that we don't need to get drunk to celebrate," Mr Vandenberg said.

The report is available at VicHealth's website.

Updated: 15 Mar, 2012