Date of this Version
The aim of this study is an assessment of the effectiveness of the safety action plan to reduce violence in nightclub precincts, which was implemented in Surfers Paradise in 1993. The focus of this report is the evaluation of the 1999 data collection, and whether there has been a decrease in the role alcohol plays in aggressive and violent behaviour in entertainment venues.
The data were collected from 17 different nightclubs around the Cavill Mall and Orchid Avenue areas in Surfers Paradise. The observations were made by Bond University student researchers between 23 February and 14 April 1999. The same 20-page observation questionnaire used in the previous studies (1993, 1994 and 1996) was employed in this data collection phase. The majority of the observations were between midnight and 2am on Thursdays to Saturdays.
The overall findings revealed that while verbal abuse and arguments have risen in the last three years, physical assaults are below the pre-1993 figures. This seems to suggest that changes to key environmental factors may be deflecting aggressive violent behaviour to a lesser form of aggression. Most of the clubs appeared renovated, and most of the premises seemed attractive and clean with up-market décor.
Over half of all males observed had medium to high levels of drunkenness, while the female drunkenness was slightly below this observed level. Males constituted up to three-quarters of the patrons, were generally less than 30 years of age, and tended to be observed in groups.
This follow-up study suggests that more needs to be done to target all forms of aggressive behaviour (including non-physical aggression). The interventions formulated by the safety action plan cannot work in isolation, nor can they work if commitment to their goals are not sustained. The underlying attitudes of Australia’s ‘wet drinking culture’, and the social acceptance of young people’s ‘rites of passage’ also need to be addressed.