Council to build on wingman success

ORANGE City Council led the way when it launched the Look After Your Mates - Wingman program to tackle alcohol-related violence last January.

Now organisers hope to build on the initiative’s success if they are able to attract more funding from the NSW Attorney-General’s department.

The promotion was based on the designated driver program and targeted males aged 18 to 35 to encourage one member of their social group - the wingman - to stay sober on a night out to help keep friends safe.

The council’s community services manager Maureen Horth said there had been several high profile incidents of alcohol-related violence in Orange, but overall the number of incidents had dropped.

Ms Horth said council staff were meeting with police about the best elements to include in the new program as part of a “toolbox” of solutions to help the target group change their mindset about alcohol.

“We want to make them recognise that violence of any kind has a huge impact on the victim but also the perpetrator and the families,” she said.

“It’s recognised that binge drinking of young people is a concern, we’re going to draw on a lot of experts who can provide us with information and studies we’ll rely on.”

Crime prevention and community safety committee chair Cr Jason Hamling said the Wingman scheme was successful as it encouraged personal responsibility.

He welcomed the state government’s initiative to force bottle shops to close at 10pm, but said excessive alcohol advertising and sporting sponsorship remained a problem.

“If you look at rugby league games on Friday night after a certain time alcohol ads are in the face of young people,” he said.

“It’s a catch-22 you need those sponsors for sport to operate but by the same token they should look at what impact it’s having on young people.”

Cr Hamling agreed with the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) call for a nationwide summit on alcohol, but said it would be difficult to change Australia’s alcohol-soaked culture.

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