INNOCENT VICTIM: Southern Cross University student Jessica Mulquiney (centre), who was the victim of a street assault in Lismor
INNOCENT VICTIM: Southern Cross University student Jessica Mulquiney (centre), who was the victim of a street assault in Lismor

Taskforce to target alcohol-related assaults

By EMMA O'NEILL

UNIVERSITY student Jessica Mulquiney received a black eye when she was attacked by a group of under-age youths outside a Lismore nightclub in June last year.

"You hear about people getting attacked, but you never think its going to happen to you," she said.

The 24-year-old believed her assault would not have occurred if alcohol wasn't involved. It's a sentiment shared by all involved with the Richmond Alcohol Response Taskforce, which was launched yesterday.

State Director of Liquor and Gaming, Albert Gardner, said the taskforce would work with police and licensees in the region to reduce the number of alcohol-related assaults.

"The taskforce takes a different approach to the problem. It is working with licensees and the police at length to establish what they can do to reduce this problem, not just telling them to abide by the law," he said.

Mr Gardner said the taskforce would combine covert operations by liquor inspectors and police at licensed venues, and encourage licensees to implement voluntary measures, such as banning shots and providing free bottles of water to patrons at risk of being intoxicated.

The taskforce program is already successfully operating in three local area commands on the Mid and Far North coasts, and has slashed alcohol-related assaults in Byron Bay by 13 per cent.

Richmond LAC commander Superintendent Bruce Lyons predicted similar results locally and said they were needed considering the latest police figures.

"Richmond LAC recorded the second-highest number of assaults in the State and half of these were alcohol-related," he said.



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