When the drinking age was lowered to 18 In 1999, critics warned it would cause an increase in alcohol-fuelled crime. But as changing the age limit is debated again, the evidence is mixed.
The collection and analysis of data used for making policy should be independent and open to ensure public trust in decision-making. The debate over alcohol licensing shows why this matters.
Rates of unwelcome advances haven’t changed under Queensland’s ‘Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence’ policies. In one entertainment district, it happened to 26% of women the night they were interviewed.
Even after ‘Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence’ policies took effect in 2016, Queenslanders still drink more heavily on nights out. Reported levels of aggression are higher than in other states too.
A comprehensive two-year evaluation of statewide measures introduced in 2016 has shown it’s possible to reduce alcohol-related violence while also producing economic benefits.
A program aimed at getting people home safely has cost A$300 million but has had little impact, aside from increased intoxication in CBD venues. Rates of assaults and road crashes are much the same.
The relationship between alcohol and violence is complex, and dramatic changes to criminal laws to punish intoxicated offenders are often ineffective, unfair or both.