MUCH has been spoken about in the media this week about alcohol-fuelled violence.
The NSW government has toughened its alcohol-related laws and the Salvation Army has weighed-in on the debate, describing the situation as “out of control”.
Now emergency doctors are calling on the federal government to tackle the problem at a national level.
Victorian emergency doctor Stephen Parnis said yesterday there were more alcohol-related harm victims fronting hospitals now than two decades ago.
Dr Parnis described alcohol-fuelled violence – including sexual assaults, car crash victims and coward punch victims – as an epidemic.
“It’s time for major change, time for a parliamentary inquiry into the issue and a national summit,” he said.
While welcoming proposed measures in NSW like earlier lock-outs at pubs and clubs and harsher penalties for alcohol and drug-related crimes, the Australian Medical Association believes it does not go far enough to curbing the problem.
The AMA now wants the national summit of governments, councils, health experts, teachers, victims and the alcohol industry to be convened to come up with solutions to the “epidemic”.
AMA federal president Dr Steve Hambleton said Australia needed leadership from the federal government and support from the states.
According to the AMA, at 2am in an emergency department, about 20 per cent of people were there because of alcohol-related trauma.
While the AMA is looking to the commonwealth for help, acting Prime Minister Warren Truss said people should not rely on the government to stop alcohol fuelled-violence.
He said governments could make it easier for people to be jailed, but they could not solve the problem.
“People have got to take responsibility for their own lives, recognise the impact on people that they might hurt as the result of some silly drunken violence but also on their own lives,” he said.
Mr Truss is right. People need to start taking responsibility for their own actions, rather than laying the blame on substance abuse and on other people.
Those who perpetrate alcohol or drug-fuelled crimes are not being forced to take these substances by someone else. They are solely to blame for what and how much goes into their bodies and the resulting actions of this abuse.
While it would be easy to up the ante where punishment is concerned, it will not solve the problem.