CRJC set to toast a safe carnival
WITH more than 17,000 people expected to pour through the gates at the Grafton racecourse over the next two weeks, safety around alcohol has been a key focus across the community.
Wayne Phillips has held the liquor licence for the Clarence River Jockey Club since 2006.
Mr Phillips said he has seen a dramatic change around the culture of drinking at the races in that time.
He said heavy drinking and intoxication was no longer tolerated.
"These days we're promoting longevity for the drinker,” Mr Phillips said.
"Our aim is to give people a fun, enjoyable, safe time and then get them home safely.”
Mr Phillips said the CRJC had developed a range of strategies to encourage responsible drinking and reduce intoxication.
They include limiting patrons to buying two drinks at a time, selling mid-strength alcohol in public areas, offering free water, providing buses to and from the races, closing the onsite bars at different times to stagger the times people left the racecourse and providing overnight security for the carparks so people could feel confident leaving their cars at the track.
Mr Phillips said glass handlers and staff working across the racecourse would also be wearing T-shirts promoting Plan B, a statewide campaign to stamp out drink driving by encouraging people to have a safe alternative to driving if they have been drinking.
A spokesperson for Roads and Maritime Services said the Plan B campaign was of particular significance for Clarence Valley's male drivers aged 30-49 who were over-represented in all alcohol-related crashes.
Safety at licensed venues across Grafton was also a focus. The Coffs/Clarence Police Licensing Unit has been working with the Grafton Liquor Accord to reduce alcohol-related crime in and around Grafton licensed premises with the Grafton Liquor Accord multi-venue banned patron policy.
Senior Constable Ben Cruickshank said the "banned from one, banned from all” initiative identified people engaged in violence and anti-social behaviour at licensed venues and prevented further risk of harm to patrons and other licensees by banning them from all participating licensed venues.
"Our common goal is to make licensed premises a safe place for staff and those wishing to socialise while enjoying a drink,” Snr Const Cruickshank said.
Snr Const Cruikshank said the multi-venue ban policy that has been operating for about 12 months plus the $550 fine for excluded persons who refuse to leave a licensed premise when requested had contributed to the decline in attributable crime in and around licensed premises.
Clarence Valley Council's safe communities project officer, Sharon Moore, said council supported the work that licensed venues, police and RMS were doing to foster a more responsible drinking culture, particularly over the July Racing Carnival.
"We want everyone to look after themselves and each other, make informed decisions and have a great day out with friends,” Mrs Moore said.
"It's encouraging to see everyone working well together, because in the end everyone wants the same thing - a safe and successful carnival.”