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Domestic and other violence spikes on State of Origin nights: study


Alcohol researchers are calling on the NRL to acknowledge and address a “crystal clear” link between State of Origin nights and domestic violence in NSW.

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A report by La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Police Research shows a 40 per cent surge in domestic violence on Wednesday nights when an Origin match is held compared with a regular Wednesday.

The study, which examined six years’ worth of data, also found a 71 per cent increase in non-domestic assaults in NSW on game days.

Researchers found no statistically-significant spike in Victoria, where there is substantially lower interest in rugby league.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education said while the drivers of such violence were complex and many, the link with Origin fixtures was “crystal clear”.

FARE’s research manager Dr Melanie Pescud says the onus is on the NRL to acknowledge the data and outline a plan to remedy the problem, such as addressing alcohol sponsorship.

“The way that alcohol is so heavily marketed and promoted is a massive problem – it is so highly visible,” she said today.

“The alcohol industry is clearly spending a lot of money on sponsorship arrangements to encourage people to drink more.”

Pescud says fingers should also be pointed at other sporting codes linked to alcohol.

FARE chief executive Michael Thorn admitted an increase in domestic violence linked to sporting fixtures was not new and drew comparisons to the 2010 World Cup in England.

The study’s release comes ahead of the second Origin match at Sydney’s Olympic Park on Sunday, which will feature a “monster marquee” at the “Tooheys New Sheds” including a 50-metre bar.

The NRL has been contacted for comment.

Christian Democrat Fred Nile had previously introduced a bill to NSW parliament to create tough restrictions on alcohol advertising, but sporting codes criticised the move by pointing to a detrimental effect on the revenues of grassroots clubs.

In March a government committee found the strict regulation of alcohol advertising had an “integral role” to play in addressing “significant health and social costs” of alcohol-related harm in society.

But the committee recommended the bill not be passed.

It suggested the government consider a strategy to phase out alcohol sponsorship in sport over time “in a way that ensures sporting clubs and organisations are not financially disadvantaged”.


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