As one-punch attacks continue to dominate Australasian headlines, researchers have slammed a report saying alcohol is not a cause of violence.
They say the report has the potential to undermine evidence-based countermeasures to alcohol-related harm, including lock-outs.
The critique, by Professor Kypros Kypri from the University of Newcastle and Nicki Jackson from the University of Auckland, is published in the latest Addiction journal.
It relates to the 2015 report, Understanding Behaviour in the Australian and New Zealand night-time economies, by British anthropologist Dr Anne Fox.
Commissioned by alcohol company Lion Pty Ltd, the report said alcohol is not a cause of violence and that the culture or beliefs about acceptable behaviour when drinking were to blame.
Her recommendations include the need for young boys to be taught not to react aggressively to every perceived slight, taunt or jest; media campaigns about acceptable drinking behaviour and teaching parents how to talk to their children about alcohol.
Ms Jackson said “these types of recommended approaches may modify a person’s knowledge or attitude, but rarely their behaviour.
“Dr Fox has overstated the effectiveness of social marketing and alcohol education, and underplayed the causal role of alcohol in violence.”
The paper fails to acknowledge the huge body of evidence concerning effective strategies for reducing violence, such as earlier cessation of sales in licensed premises, Ms Jackson said.
“Despite failing to meet even basic standards of research the report cannot be ignored, because the findings are being used by the alcohol industry to overturn licensing decisions and in submissions on public policy,” Professor Kypri said.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) welcomed the critique, saying the alcohol industry-funded report recommendations were weak, imprecise and would take at best many generations to see any effect.
Chief executive Michael Thorn noted the “substantial body of persuasive global research” which showed that addressing alcohol’s price, availability and promotion had an immediate impact on reducing alcohol-fuelled violence, anti-social behaviours, and patterns of risky drinking.