It’s been described as “the scourge of Sydney” and police officers, doctors and nurses say they’ve had enough.
As yet another young man fought for his life in hospital after a horrific night of brutality on Sydney streets, front-line workers have hit out at the escalation in alcohol-fuelled violence.
Standing outside St Vincent’s Hospital, where a 23-year-old man remained in a coma with devastating injuries from an attack overnight, public affairs manager David Faktor told reporters: “It’s a zoo in there.”
“You would be mocking the anguish of any of our front-line nurses or doctors if you were to talk about significant reductions in alcohol-related assaults,” he said.
“We’re more concerned than we have ever been before.”
A total of 213 people were arrested in NSW overnight on the first day of Operation Unite – a two-day police blitz on alcohol misuse, crime, violence and anti-social behaviour in Australia and New Zealand.
The Bondi Beach man, whose head was stomped on in front of dozens of onlookers, was one of many victims.
Another young man had his head stomped on after he was set upon by four people outside a Sydney city nightclub, while a 48-year-old victim was punched in the head from behind at Rozelle.
A young man was punched in the face in Kings Cross in a brazen attack in front of police officers.
One man’s ear was almost severed off in a glassing attack at a hotel near Wollongong, while a 25-year-old man was knocked unconscious after falling two storeys from a hotel balcony at Neutral Bay.
Mr Faktor said the common factor was alcohol.
“We have a massive problem on our hands,” he said.
“Alcohol is too readily available and we’re too lax in terms of our laws in inhibiting that availability.”
NSW police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas said he was extremely concerned that while the numbers of arrests was marginally down from last year’s operation, the level of violence had escalated.
“It is of great concern that people simply don’t think further than the next five seconds,” Mr Kaldas told reporters.
“People still continue to do these things despite the massive publicity that each of these incidents get and despite it being clear that this has a huge impact not only on the offender’s family but on the victim’s family and society generally.”
NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson called on the government to introduce Labor’s plan to tackle alcohol-related harm, which includes 1am lockouts in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross.
Mr Robertson said a similar plan trialled in Newcastle had seen a 26 per cent reduction in alcohol-related attacks.
“Alcohol-fuelled violence is now becoming the scourge of Sydney,” Mr Robertson said.
“What we need is a comprehensive, detailed proposal … that actually confronts and deals with the problem.”
Mr Kaldas warned would-be offenders of increased police patrols on Saturday night.