Driving effective change in policy will help to save lives.
Deakin’s Associate Professor Peter Miller can deservedly claim some credit for the new alcohol laws set to be introduced in NSW.
Associate Professor Miller has been a passionate advocate for the new laws and has been unflinching in delivering his message, including many media appearances over the past few weeks. He has devoted many years to the issue of alcohol and violence, and his research has led him to one very strong conclusion.
“What really works in improving things is State and Federal government policy,” he said. “The evidence repeatedly shows that what reduces alcohol-related violence is reducing pub trading hours, restricting advertising to our kids and raising the price of alcohol.”
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced the suite of new measures on January 21, in response to mounting community pressure. Once the new laws are passed, hotels and clubs in Sydney’s CBD will be required to lock out new customers from 1.30 am and cease alcohol trading by 3 am. Bottle shops will be required to close at 10 pm and there will be mandatory minimum sentences for alcohol and drug-fuelled offences, including eight years in jail for fatal one-punch attacks involving alcohol and drugs.
Before beginning his research career many years ago, Associate Professor Miller spent 12 years as a bouncer, so he knows intimately the damage that alcohol can inflict, and he has a strong drive to “make a difference.”
“While the alcohol lobby is very well connected, the time is right in NSW, and hopefully, other states will follow,” he said.
“This move deserves a big tick,” he added. “We must acknowledge that the Premier has made a brave and landmark move. He is now providing a key message to the public that ‘the Government will act.’”
Peter Miller’s reputation as a leader in his field was cemented in 2013 when he was awarded the Excellence in Research Award at the National Drug and Alcohol Awards ceremony in Canberra.
As Principal Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Violence Prevention Group within Deakin’s School of Psychology, he has overseen Australia’s largest study in patron behaviour, Patron Offending and Intoxication in the Night Time Entertainment Districts, or POINTED. This collaboration between law enforcement organisations and six universities involved 7,000 interviews and 900 observations across five sites.
While obviously delighted with the new laws in NSW, Associate Professor Miller sees his work as only just beginning, with the call for new laws in other states, and a whole-of-government national strategy to prevent and reduce violence, some of the issues he has his sights on.