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Alcohol researchers report rise in domestic violence on State of Origin nights

Alcohol researchers report rise in domestic violence on State of Origin nights
June 22, 2018

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.

A report by La Trobe University's Centre for Alcohol Police Research shows a 40% surge in domestic violence and a near 70% increase in non-domestic assaults on Wednesday nights when an Origin match is held compared with a regular Wednesday.

The study, which examined six years' worth of data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), also found a 71% increase in non-domestic assaults in NSW on game days. Researchers found no statistically-significant spike in Victoria.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), which commissioned the study is calling on rugby league administrators to do more to reverse the trend. Researchers found no statistically-significant spike in Victoria, where there is substantially lower interest in rugby league.

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.

Dr Pescud told AAP “the way that alcohol is so heavily marketed and promoted is a massive problem - it is so highly visible.

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

Dr Pescud also questioned other sporting codes linked to alcohol, adding "I don't think anybody should be off the hook in terms of the surge in domestic violence.

"Everyone's got a role to play."

La Trobe University's Dr Michael Livingstone analysed the data for FARE and advised “it's not an unusual thing to find spikes in violence or other problems around big events.

"But these are really quite significant jumps."

Dr Livingstone highlighted similar research done in England around the FIFA World Cup and in the US around American football that has shown similar spikes in domestic violence when high-profile sporting events take place.

Anabelle Daniels, Chief Executive of Women's Community Shelters says there is a reported increase in referrals to crisis shelters the day after major sporting events in NSW.

She said it would be interesting to see whether there were different figures on nights when there was a loss.

Daniels told the ABC "I think there is such a strong sporting culture around the combination of alcohol and gambling and winning that can potentially be quite toxic in certain situations.

"Where sport is interlaced with issues of alcohol and gambling as part of the experience, then that can potentially have consequences at home."

The study's release comes ahead of the second Origin match at Sydney's Olympic Park on Sunday.

Promotion this week has included the spruiking of a ‘monster marquee’ at the Tooheys New Sheds, where organisers have boasted there will be a 50-metre bar.

Family violence support services:

1800 Respect national helpline 1800 737 732
Women's Crisis Line 1800 811 811
Men's Referral Service 1300 766 491
Lifeline (24 hour crisis line) 131 114
Relationships Australia 1300 364 277

Image: Beer brand Tooheys has extensive links with State of Origin. 

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