Plans for Bendigo jelly-wrestling event spark outrage

Editorial: Two sides to jelly wrestling debate

Update:

THE Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has banned any more promotion of  Universal on McCrae's muck-up day event War of the Worlds.

The ban, signed by VCGLR commissioner Des Powell, comes despite the event being cancelled late last night.

The War of the Worlds event, intended to be hosted by Home and Away heart-throb Dan Ewing, featured a jelly-wrestling match between Catholic College Bendigo and Bendigo Senior Secondary College girls plus a beer pong contest for the boys.

A spokesperson from the VCGLR said licensees were obligated under the Liquor Control act to serve alcohol responsibly.

In a statement released to the Bendigo Advertiser this afternoon the authority deemed the event not in the public interest.

"The Commission decided the advertising and promotion of the event was not in the public interest and not consistent with the responsible service of alcohol requirements contained in the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998. The advertising and promotion of this event was likely to encourage irresponsible consumption of alcohol," it says.

"Venues who do not comply with a banning notice commit a criminal offence and can face penalties of up to $16,900.80."

Universal manager Toby Gray last night released a statement on the nightclub's Facebook page confirming the cancellation of the event. 

A VCGLR spokesperson said they were told the event was cancelled after the authority confirmed to the club they were investigating the promotion. The Bendigo Advertiser understands Mr Ewing pulling out of the event was also a factor in the decision to pull the pin on the event.

"On behalf of the Universal Bendigo we are bitterly disappointed with the negative response from individuals and the media about our major event," Mr Gray said.

"We have cancelled our special event.

"As stated both BSSC and CCB schools were never part of any organisation of this event and it was never the aim to downgrade these organisations it was just a bit of fun that has been enjoyed by many over six years.

"The jelly wrestling and beer pong plus the actual event were all run by the licencing inspector in Bendigo in a meeting one week ago and there were no liquor licence problems."

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Mr Gray said he would be contacting his solicitors about comments made in some media outlets.

The nightclub's schoolgirl jelly-wrestling competition went viral yesterday and sparked national debate.

Both Catholic College Bendigo and Bendigo Senior Secondary College slammed Universal for trying to “cash in” on muck-up day. 

The schools did not give Universal permission to link them to the promotion and contacted police in case of possible liquor licence breaches. 

BSSC principal Dale Pearce said someone from CCB made him aware of the competition on Wednesday afternoon and he accused Universal of being “highly irresponsible”.

“For each of the past three or four years at least one of the local licensed premises have sought to take financial advantage of students ending their school year... if this is not a breach of their licensing conditions, it should be.”

CCB deputy principal Michael Chalkley said that after receiving a copy of the poster late last week, repeated attempts to contact someone at Universal failed.

“Each time I rang the mobile number the message was that the mailbox was full,” he said.

“We want to promote the fun and happiness around completing year 12 but the notion of a muck-up day doesn’t really exist. We’re disappointed people continue to push it and send the wrong messages to our kids.

“To advertise that sort of stuff is demeaning and sends the wrong message to young men and women.”

Media outlets across the country reported on the competition after the father of an 18-year-old Bendigo student labelled it “absolutely disgusting”.

“It’s misogynist, sexist and close to what a strip club does,” he told the Bendigo Advertiser.

Earlier, Mr Gray said he didn’t understand what the big deal was, that everything had been taken out of context but “all publicity is good publicity”.

He said there were sexual connotations linked with jelly wrestling but the reality was the girls would be wearing shorts and singlets.

“Some girls these days get around in a lot less when they’re out and about,” Mr Gray said.

“And they’re all consenting adults.”

Mr Gray said the nightclub had hosted jelly wrestling during (university) O-Week for the past six years without any issues.

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