Stuart Kelly, 17, whose brother died during a boozy night out has delivered a simple message to the public. “Australia is an alcoholic. We need to rethink the way we drink.”
Thomas Kelly was 18-years-old at the time of his death. He was brutally felled by a single blow from a drunk stranger in Sydney’s night-life epicentre of King’s Cross.
His younger brother Stuart now runs the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation and brought a room to tears at one of their recent events when he described the moment doctors told him “Thomas is in a critical condition and will not survive.”
Above: Stuart Kelly and his mother Kathy.
“Action is needed through strong leadership from the NSW Government to stop the growing epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse and misuse that is turning into senseless violence,” Stuart added.
Lockouts and a change in opening hours did occur throughout King’s Cross last year and there has been a drop in the number of assaults, but with such strict measures there has also been a significant drop in business.
“We’ve gone from a late night event zone that’s been built up over 30 years to restrictions that’s created a loss of jobs and venue and small businesses closures,” Kings Cross Licensing Accord Association chief executive officer Douglas Grand told news.com.au.
Queensland has put lockout restrictions in place and access to pubs is denied after 3am. Melbourne tried lockouts for six months and then dropped the initiative.
Above: Thomas Kelly, killed after a one-punch attack in King’s Cross, New South Wales.
Others have weighed in on the topic of “Australia is an alcoholic” recently, like Kellie Sloane with her personable opinion piece at the Courier Mail.
Ms. Sloane delves into the Aussie psyche and culture where alcoholism has embedded itself. The sun is starting to come out again and we have the AFL footy finals, Rugby World Cup, Melbourne Cup, Schoolies, and Christmas on the horizon for the next three months.
Not to mention we just chucked a few all night parties after Tony Abbott was booted from office. None the less, drinking always peaks at this time of year.
We need down-to-earth voices like Stuart Kelly’s questioning our collective alcohol consumption. At the end of the day an individual makes their own decisions, but there’s nothing wrong with scrutinising our collective behaviour.
Last year 11,789 young people ended up in emergency departments after excess drinking. That’s about 230 a week.
Does alcohol need to be our “go-to” in times of celebration, stress, or loss?
Above: St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney says it has seen a drop in serious alcohol-related injuries after lockouts and curfews came into force last year.