Alcohol-related Violence – Who’s to Blame?

By Rhys Woosnam

Adam Foster laid beaten and bloody in a gutter in the suburb of Broadbeach. An eight on two assault, him and his friend were no chance. The cowards fled the scene almost immediately. This was an all too familiar sight in the nightclub district. The most shocking part is that police were in clear vision of the incident, not even bothering to call an ambulance.

He was another victim of the dangerous mix of alcohol and violence.

We must ask ourselves, what causes these brutal attacks and is the Government doing enough to stop them?

The effects of alcohol-related violence in Queensland permeate all levels of society and cause significant physical as well as mental damage. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology in report entitled Alcohol-Related Assault: Time and Place, 30.6% of adults have experienced some form of violence that has been brought on through alcohol consumption.

Adam’s sister Kelly was shocked at the lack of involvement by the local law enforcement. “The police was on the scene but did not intervene at all; they did not even call an ambulance. My brother’s girlfriend called the ambulance and a long while after the two were taken to hospital and stayed overnight.”

She believes that if the policemen and women had responded properly to the incident, her brother would have not been left with serious injuries.

“Mentally it affected me that the Broadbeach police witnessed the event and still did nothing. I have the highest level of respect for the defence forces but when it comes to Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise police at night they become arrogant.”

Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise. These two places are the premier suburbs in the Gold Coast for nightclub entertainment and play host to a multitude of young people who drink the night away with reckless abandon. They are, along with Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, major locations for the brutal violence that is occurring amongst the young revellers.

The Valley in particular was the scene of a horrendous attack just a few months ago. A young man who was extremely drunk, punched a female nightclub owner in the head, this then led to a bouncer king hitting the man, leaving him unconscious. “THIS is the face of the shocking cycle of drunken violence that fills the state’s emergency wards with assault victims every weekend.” Lara Lauth wrote in her article in the Sunday Mail about the assault.

The Queensland Government have realised how serious of an impact these attacks have taken on the state and recently published a report that detailed their inquiry into alcohol-related violence.

At 105 pages it is incredibly extensive and covers all factors including the extended opening hours of many nightclubs, parental education to children about the dangers of alcohol and the police presence in these areas as well as sufficient public transport.

The report was chaired by MP Barbara Stone and was kick-started in response to the sharp rise in alcohol-related violence. A number of risk-prevention measures were suggested to the government, the majority of which are now incorporated into the Queensland nightclub scene.

A major factor in the escalating violence is the extremely late opening hours of some facilities. Adam’s incident occurred at approximately 2am. At this time the majority of nightclubs are not only still open, but are still allowing customers into the facility. The 3am lockout is a difficult concept, in some cases it contributes to the violence but in other cases it allows nightclub staff to curb violence and keep people inside and much safer.

The nightclub’s role in preventing violence is incredibly important. Or at least you would think so.

Six prominent nightclubs on the Gold Coast were contacted for their opinion on alcohol-related violence. Five of them gave no reply but the sixth one had an interesting response. They said in an email that “We at (name retracted) believe that violence involving alcohol is not our responsibility and should be left to the Queensland Police to deal with.” Surely the people who supply the attackers with the alcohol should burden some of the blame or at the very least should help to curb the amount of violence?

All levels of Government have been compiling reports and creating initiatives in the community to reduce the risk of violence. The most successful idea in Queensland that stemmed from the previously mentioned report is the Drink Safe Precincts in Townsville, Fortitude Valley and the Gold Coast.

The Drink Safe Precinct initiative was launched as a two-year trial in December 2010 and has seen a significant improvement in the safety of nightclub patrons. The main changes to the areas included in the precinct is an increased police presence, a number of water stations and safe zones and most importantly sufficient public transport till late at night.

The lack of public transport in previous years had added to the danger of leaving a club after a big night of drinking.

According to the 2010-11 Queensland Police Report “As at 30 June 2011, 9397 additional police hours have been worked in the precincts and 2289 arrests made. Police also intervened on over 1090 occasions to prevent conflict and issued 1 269 move-on directions.” The significant jump in policing around problem areas has been a factor in reducing attacks but there is still an alarming amount of violence prevalent and not just here in Queensland.

Young man Thomas Kelly was killed three months ago as a result of an attack in the infamous Kings Cross. He was spending his first night out after turning 18 and was the victim of an unprovoked king hit. If brutal incidents like this are still happening in Australia, then the Government and the community as a whole is obviously not doing enough.

When interviewed about alcohol-fuelled violence last month, Minister for Health and Aging Mark Butler said that there is no single solution to this problem. “There is the question about responsible serving of alcohol within licensed venues. I do think there is a change in the trading hours of hotels, certainly in the twenty years since I was a young person. And what that has done is it has led to people spilling out of venues very, very late often at four, five am. And although there is still violence within licensed venues, more security in those venues meant that the violence is increasingly happening on the streets.”

The fact that a politician high up in the food chain can see what is wrong with alcohol-violence and yet it still occurs on a regular occasion is very worrying. It seems as no matter what to Government does to curb violence among drunken patrons, it will still plague society.

When it comes down to the core of the situation, the only person we can really blame is the attacker themselves. There are countless studies on what makes a person commit violent acts whilst intoxicated but we still don’t have a concrete answer. It means that the community will continue to face an uphill battle.

Alcohol can add enjoyment to social outings, but it comes with a significant risk. The Government will continue to introduce attempts at ending alcohol-related violence, and they may cause a reduction in incidents. The truth is that stories like Thomas Kelly and Adam Foster will unfortunately continue to occur. The best way to lower the risk of being attacked is to simply drink responsibly and if faced with a potentially violent situation, just walk away.

References

“Alcohol-fuelled Violence; Cubbie Station; Gonski Funding.” Interview.Hansard. Parliament Of Australia, 5 Sept. 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2012.http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard

Lauth, Lara, and David Murray. “Nightclub on Frontline of Alcohol-fuelled Violence.” Sunday Mail [Brisbane] 29 July 2012: n. pag. Print.

Queensland Police Service. “Annual Report 2010-11.” 2010/2011 Annual Report. N.p., 2011. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.http://www.police.qld.gov.au/services/reportsPublications/annualReport/1011.htm

Stone, Barbara, Andrew Cripps, Jarrod Bleijie, Steve Kilburn, Aidan McLindon, Ray Stevens, Murray Watt, and Dean Wells. Inquiry into Alcohol-Related Violence – Final Report. Rep. Legislative Assembly of Queensland, Mar. 2010. Web. 5 Oct. 2012.http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/LJSC/2009/alcohol-related-violence/Report74.pdf

Teece, Michael, and Paul Williams. Alcohol-Related Assault: Time and Place. Rep. N.p.: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2000. Australian Institute of Criminology. Oct. 2000. Web. 11 Oct. 2012.http://www.aic.gov.au/en/publications/current%20series/tandi/161-180/tandi169.aspx

Van Den Broeke, Leigh. “Kings Cross Locals Mourn Teen Thomas Kelly after King-hit Death.” The Daily Telegraph [Sydney] 11 July 2012: n. pag. Print.

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die

By Lewis Warner

People have been crying for a while now about the decline video game industry, that it isn’t what it used to be, so I set out to disprove this myth. In the true spirit of “why so serious?” I picked up a copy of Dark Souls and set out to die.

After a painstaking crawl through dungeons and obstacles I have come to an impasse. In front of me stands the Capra Demon, wielding two machetes each longer than a man and covered in blood. My stomach sinks, around his neck hangs the key that I seek. I charge forward, hoping to catch the beast by surprise, but to no avail, it lunges with unnatural speed, swinging its machete in a vicious arc. I catch the first sweeping blow upon my shield. The impact is deafening and I stagger backwards, helpless as the second swipe hurtles down towards me. Then I die, a painful, repetitive, infuriatingly challenging death.

(An anonymous fan art submission of the Capra Demon)

This isn’t the first time the Capra Demon has killed me, nor the second or the third. If I recall correctly it’s somewhere around number twelve. Welcome to Dark Souls, a game that is bucking the trend towards easy, dumbed down games, one gruesome death at a time.

When I read the phrase emblazoned across the front cover of Dark Souls: “Prepare to die”, I scoffed and considered it a challenge.I was so confident in my gaming prowess, I thought I would chew this game up and spit it out with a light smattering of deaths along the way. Much like I do with each AAA title that hits shelves. I was so very, very wrong.

Dark Souls has many aspects that set it apart from any other game I’ve ever played, but the thing that makes it stand out in the current market; it’s hard, uncompromisingly, unapologetically and unfalteringly hard.It does not come equipped with the standard option to play on easy, normal or hard difficulty mode, just the one nail biting, controller smashing default difficulty setting.
Don’t expect an industry standard in-depth tutorial here, all dark souls provides is a long and difficult initial level in which you gather knowledge of the controls and game mechanics and die numerous times in the process.

(A cover image of the dark souls video game)
Maybe you are thinking I’ve painted a pretty grim picture, and that Dark Souls doesn’t sound like it’s even fun to play. Why would anyone want to play a game in which failure and death is guaranteed to be a regular occurrence? After years of playing games in which I could change the difficulty setting down, or level up in order to easily overcome a challenge, it took me a while to pin point why I find Dark Souls so addictive. It is the challenge of Dark Souls that makes it so rewarding.

After suffering countless deaths at the hands of a boss fight, screaming every profanity you had to utter at the developers and swearing that the game is impossible, it is the sweetest most exquisite feeling to finally win.This is why Dark Souls has managed to be successful even whist most other games are becoming easier in order to appeal to a wider audience.

I sat down with an old hand in the video game industry, Michael Lennon, to discuss his experience of the industry, and his view on the trend towards easier video games.

“I think the trend towards easier video games has been happening for a while now.” Michael said.

“Because major publishers are now public companies traded on the stock exchange, there is an need and a drive for games to generate as much revenue as possible. “

“To this end, publishers use the ‘we pay the bills’ trump card to pressure developers into making games that will appeal to the widest possible audience.” He said.

Michael spent eleven years in the video game industry, working for companies such as THQ, Pandemic and EA.

“I really enjoyed my time in the industry, and I was lucky enough to work on six released titles.”

“There were also some negatives though, sometimes the games industry can pressure you into making a game you aren’t happy with.”  Michael said.

According to Michael, a lot of passionate games creators have started small independent studios with the ambition of creating new and innovative games, free of the pressure of huge profit hungry publishers.

“A lot of ex-colleagues of mine have started their own small companies, their games often appeal to niche markets rather than a wider audience, but they don’t make a lot of money.”

When I asked Michael about Dark Souls specifically he was quick to praise the game.

“Games like Dark Souls are reminiscent of the golden age of video games, when there was a huge, dedicated fan base that wanted a challenging experience that offers depth and replayability.”

“Nowadays a lot of consumers are more interested in the graphical advancements, movie like storylines and carbon copy competitive multi player.”

“This means that games like Dark Souls are few and far between, but they are a beautiful thing when they do come along.”

Dark Souls is the rare exception to the rule, despite being unapologetically difficult it has enjoyed immense success.

One particularly passionate fan and active member of the dark souls community is Dean Cormack.

Dean has been a gamer since his early teenage years and says Dark Souls was a pleasant change from most other games on the market.

“I’ve played my fair share of Call of Duty and other similar games, but Dark Souls is so different, it’s the game I just keep going back to.” Dean said.

“I love the challenge of Dark Souls, every death is essentially your fault and you have to learn what you did wrong and approach the problem differently if you want to win.”

Although Dark Souls innovates in the area of difficulty and mixing conventions of the action, RPG and strategy genres it also offers a completely unique multiplayer experience. When you connect to the internet whilst playing Dark Souls the experience takes on a whole new dimension. Messages scrawled on the floor by other players appear throughout the world. These messages are equally useful as they are dangerous.


For example where one player might see fit to warn his piers of a trap lurking around the next bend, another sadistic player might herald an amazing treasure ahead, causing unwary readers to rush headlong to their deaths.

“The messages on the floor are a real highlight for me, sometimes you find one that really sums up Dark Souls.” Dean said.

“I had died at the hands of a particular boss so many times, and as I fought my way up to the lair again I came across a message scrawled at the top of a cliff, it just said ‘try jumping…’, obviously someone else was having just as much trouble as I was.”

Multiplayer isn’t limited to just writing messages to one another however, by using a valuable in game currency, players are able to be summoned into each others worlds to assist in boss fights. By leaving a white summons sign outside the lair of a boss, players make themselves available to be summoned by someone who is struggling to beat the boss on their own.

“Some bosses are pretty damn hard to beat solo, if you aren’t rolling a build that can tank a lot of damage, bosses like Quelaag or Smorg and Ornstein are very hard without summoning.” Dean said.

“If you want a pure Dark Souls experience or you want to be able to say ‘I beat the game solo’ then you can try to do it without summoning, but you’re going to have a hell of a time.”

If you are thinking that this summoning option seems out of sorts with Dark Souls commitment to ruthless difficulty, then you are correct. Summoning assistance comes with one very large catch.

In order to summon, players must change their status from hollow to human. This allows the player to summon other human players into their world to assist with a boss, but it also opens them to being invaded by human players who want to steal their souls. Souls and humanity are the currency of Dark Souls and invading other players is a very lucrative means of gaining souls.

“PvP is a tonne of fun in this game, it’s just nothing like any other PvP experience I’ve ever had.” Dean said.

“When you invade someone and your risking all the souls you have for the chance at stealing theirs it’s an exhilarating feeling.”

“Putting down a summon sign and helping someone beat a boss is fun, but nothing feels more baddass than invading someone else’s game as a spirit of vengeance or a dark wraith.”

I asked Michael Lennon what he thought of Dark Souls approach to multi player, and why he thinks it has been so successful in maintaining an active online community.

“Because Dark Souls seamlessly blends single player and multiplayer, people who love the game are drawn back to it over and over again because every time you play it is different.” Michael said.

“Where one time you summon assistance and defeat a boss with relative ease, the next time you attempt it you might be invaded before you even reach the lair.”

The developers of Dark Souls were not content to rest upon their success however, after completing Dark Souls they were quick to release a substantial expansion pack. In a lot of modern games, expansion packs are pay to win affairs or content that was already developed prior to release but held back in order to make more money, not so with Dark Souls. The Artorias of the Abyss expansion added a whole host of new areas and bosses to test your prowess against as well as new items, spells and characters. But the thing that really made the expansion pack shine is that the developers had clearly listened carefully to what the community wanted and delivered it to them.

Although the PvP system in Dark Souls is a whole lot of fun, and adds an exciting risk to summoning other players, for the hardcore PvP fan it wasn’t quite fast paced enough.

“I love PvP, I could do it over and over again, but in the vanilla version of Dark Souls sometimes you would have to search for quite awhile before you could find someone to invade.” Dean said.

“In the expansion pack, the developers built a dedicated arena within the game world where players could go and match up for PvP battles one after another.”

“This was just the icing on the cake for me, I already loved Dark Souls so much, and this just meant that I can keep coming back and enjoying it, again and again.”

Maybe I’ve swayed you with all this praise of Dark Souls, and you are thinking you might want to give it a try.

Just be warned, Dark Souls will challenge you, it will test your patience, logic and skill. So when you pick up a copy, hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I and countless others have, but before you rush in thinking it will be as easy as the last ten games you conquered, prepare to die.

If you are interested in giving dark souls a bash, had any questions about this story, or just wanna say hey, sound off in the comments or drop into the facebook page!

A Nose Grows on One Man’s Forehead

Originally posted on NewsFeed:

Chinese surgeons at a hospital in Fuzhou, Fujian grew a new nose on a 22-year-old man’s forehead after an accident left his original one unusable, Reuters reports.

Xiaolian had sustained injuries to his original nose after a traffic accident, which led to a severe infection and deformity.

To craft the new appendage, doctors took cartilage from Xiaolian’s ribs and implanted it under skin tissue on his forehead. When finished growing later this month, the nose will be transplanted to its proper place.

In January, British doctors grew a nose on a man’s arm after he lost his original to cancer.

[Yahoo!]

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Seven-Year-Old Boy Hears for the First Time

wssnewsblog:

Amazing.

Originally posted on NewsFeed:

A deaf seven-year-old Guatemalan boy, Henry Rivera, can now hear. It’s all thanks to  missionary Erin Van Oordt, who brought him to America for a life changing operation. Advanced Bionics donated equipment totaling $40,000 so Dr. Disher could perform the procedure at Lutheran Hospital, Indiana. Watch here to see how Rivera reacts to hearing for the first time in his life.

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Firefighters Awarded for Their Bravery on Black Saturday

Originally posted on News Bytes:

MORE than 4470 fire fighters will be awarded a medal recognising their efforts during the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

The National Emergency Medal honours people who served their community during emergencies.

Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells says the CFA members deserve recognition for their efforts.

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Kanye West: “I’m the No. 1 Rock Star — on the Planet”

wssnewsblog:

Well, Kanye’s never been the most modest person in the world….

Originally posted on The Marquee Blog:

Lately, Kanye West has been frustrated.

As he told BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe in a wide-ranging, hour-long interview this week, “I’ve reached a point in my life where my ‘Truman Show’ boat has hit the painting … I’ve reached the glass ceiling as a creative person, as a celebrity.”

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Too Legit to Quit: Street Art vs. Graffiti



You’ll find it on windows; you’ll find it on walls; you’ll find it in bathroom stalls. Like any country, Australia is not without its vandals, many of whom leave their mark in the form of graffiti. Despite the efforts of the Councils and the Queensland Police Service, vandals still run rampant in the Brisbane area, with an alleged 1.8 million dollars spent in 2012 on graffiti removal, an expensive and time-consuming task.

Of course the Brisbane Council isn’t just losing money and time, it’s also losing culture. I spoke to Brisbane-based street artist Blu Art Xinja on the matter, and he had this to say:

“I started doing my street art because I believed Brisbane needed a bit of a culture boost. I have since met a lot of amazing artists with the same idea, but Brisbane Council is still a bit sterile in that regard.”

Blu Art Xinja strikes a pose.

Blu Art Xinja strikes a pose.

“I definitely consider my work ‘art’ and not ‘graffiti’. I want people to love what they see. If it gets taken down (and it has) I’d like to think that it was someone’s job and not because they hated it.”

Artist Dion Parker, who recently contributed to a street art project on the Gold Coast, largely agrees with Blu Art Xinja’s sentiments.

“I’m a big fan of street art myself but I can see why some people are offended by it. I don’t think it will ever be totally accepted as a legitimate art form. I think some people will always see it as vandalism, no matter how beautiful it is.”

The project Dion contributed to can be seen near Australia Fair, Southport. The project consists of a series of murals painted by local artists using various techniques, not the least of which was the trusty spraypaint. The project was done as part of St. George Bank’s “Start Something” campaign, with the ultimate goal being to help raise awareness of local artists by displaying their work in public.

“The urban art project was great fun and I was stoked to be a part of it. It was my first mural and first time using cans. I really enjoyed it.”

Dion Parker also writes and illustrates a comic called Jhonny Stroke.

Dion Parker also writes and illustrates a comic called Jhonny Stroke.

While the project has since been handed over to non-local artists for completion, the urban art project definitely indicates that the legitimisation of street art is starting to take hold on the Gold Coast, coinciding with the incredible overhauls the city has seen in preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Even Councillor Dawn Crichlow has given the urban art project a nod of approval, believing the murals will do much to impress tourists going past on the soon-to-be-opened light rail. With luck, the Gold Coast’s newfound positive reception for street art will outlast the Commonwealth Games and evolve to become a notable feature of its citizens.