Violence could mar Australia Day

VICTORIA Police has warned that the nation’s proudest day is fast becoming known as a day of violence, as figures out today show that Australia Day sees more assaults than any other public holiday of the year.

Last year in Victoria, there were 121 non-family violence related assaults on 26 January – almost double the number seen on an average day in Victoria. 

In 2012, there were 109 assaults reported to police on Australian Day and 121 on the same day in 2011.

On a typical day, there are around 69 assaults across the state.

The trend has worried police, who say that warmer weather, alcohol and drugs and groups of people coming together to celebrate often fuel the acts of violence to which they have to respond.

Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said the figures were alarming for a day that was supposed to be one of the proudest in the nation’s history.

“Australia Day is the most violent of our public holidays by a long shot,” he said. 

“Everyone needs to take responsibility for seeing this day become one where violence escalates.

“We know people want to have a drink or two to celebrate the day with family and friends, but don’t let the situation get out of control. Don’t let it end in violence.”

Mr Cartwright said he was becoming increasingly concerned with fatal “one punch” incidents that the country had witnessed in recent times.

“The nation has seen that it only takes one punch for someone to die or be seriously injured,” he said,

“These are cowardly attacks. They have devastating impacts. They ruin lives. They shatter families.

“Why don’t we all stop and reflect on this thought this Australia Day? It might save lives.”

Police will also crack down on the use of illegal fireworks, with a focus on foreshore areas and where organised community celebrations are held.

Booze bus operations will run throughout the state catching those who drink and drive.

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