The NSW Government is urging people to Think Safe to Drink Safe this summer as part of its commitment to supporting a safe and vibrant hospitality industry across NSW.
The Think Safe to Drink Safe campaign aims to educate both patrons and venue staff on positive drinking behaviours, as well as provide tips to mitigate potential risks to personal safety.
Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris said he was particularly concerned by data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) which found NSW Police recorded 220 food or drink spiking incidents between July 2022 and June 2023 – an increase of 20 per cent on the previous year.
“This campaign is crucial for raising awareness of drink spiking, which is at its highest rate in NSW for five years,” Mr Harris said.
“Drink spiking is a serious criminal offence and I encourage anyone who experiences or witnesses this behaviour to report it to the NSW Police.
“The NSW Government is committed to supporting efforts that help venues keep their patrons safe, as well as educate patrons themselves on what to be alert for.
The education campaign features information and tips for both venues and patrons across posters, a fact sheets, coasters, social media tiles and key messages.
“I invite all venues to roll out the Think Safe to Drink Safe creative assets and content to help educate their staff and patrons about how to protect themselves and their friends,” Mr Harris added.
“I am pleased to see the campaign receiving tremendous support from industry representatives and police at yesterday’s Liquor Accord Forum held in Darling Harbour.
By working together we can ensure everyone has an enjoyable and safe summer season in our great venues across NSW.”
Liquor Accords are made up of liquor licensees, community members, businesses, local councils, police, government departments and other community groups. These groups work together to develop strategies tackling alcohol-related issues, anti-social behaviour, and violence in local areas.
Tuesday’s Liquor Accord Forum allowed opportunities for collaboration ahead of the summer party season and showcased a range of initiatives including the Think Safe to Drink Safe campaign.
The free Think Safe to Drink Safe toolkit is available at liquorandgaming.nsw.gov.au.
Think Safe to Drink Safe tips include:
1. Don’t accept drinks from others. Always buy your own and watch it get made. Never leave your drink unattended and avoid batch drinks like punches that may have unknown ingredients and alcohol content.
2. Pace yourself. Count your drinks, try a low-alcohol alternative, or have a ‘spacer’ of water between alcoholic drinks. Don’t let people continually top up your drink, as it’s hard to keep track of your alcohol consumption and be aware that different drinks have different strengths. Set a timer on your phone to help you pace your drinks.
3. Avoid shouts, drinking games or shots. Drink at your own pace, you don’t have to join in every round and consider buying a non-alcoholic drink when it’s your turn. Don’t be pressured into drinking more than you want or intend to.
4. Eat before or while you are drinking. If you have a full stomach, alcohol will be absorbed more slowly. Avoid salty snacks, as these make you drink more.
5. Stay busy. If you have something to do, you tend to drink less, so have a game of pool or hit the dance floor.
6. Trust your feelings and instincts. If you feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or worried for any reason, try to get somewhere safe and find someone you trust who can help you, like a friend, bar staff, security or police. You won’t get in trouble.
7. Have a ‘plan B’. Plans change quickly, ensure you have multiple options to get home safely. Remember you may still be over the limit the next morning.
8. Always tell your mates where you’re going. Let someone know which venue you’re drinking at. If you go to another location, particularly with someone you don’t know well, send the address to a trusted friend. If you decide to go home early, leave the group or even just go to the bathroom, let your mates know.
9. Keep an eye on your mates! If you are going out in a group, plan to arrive together and leave together. Never leave a friend who’s been drinking on their own. If you’re at a party, check in with them during the night to see how they’re doing. If something doesn’t look right, let a friend know you are uncomfortable or worried about their safety.
10. Sometimes sticking together isn’t enough, you need to recognise when you might need to call for help.
11. Consent and Boundaries. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions. Be aware of this and set boundaries for yourself before going out. Remember if someone seems drunk, they probably can’t consent. Instead, trade numbers.
12. Drink spiking. Many drugs and alcohol used to spike drinks are tasteless. If there’s a change in your drink’s flavour or if it tastes or smells stronger than what you were expecting, get rid of it and let a trusted person know. Know the signs and symptoms of drink spiking: feeling dizzy, faint, ill, sleepy, incoherent, confused or drunk even though you’ve consumed a small amount of alcohol. If you experience these, let someone know. If you see a friend experiencing these symptoms, check in and stay with them until they recover. Call 000 in an emergency.