|The purpose of this report is to present some key findings from the evaluation of the Surfers Paradise Safety Action Project. At the time of writing, the full evaluation report was in the latter stages of preparation, but was not in a form suitable for publication (Home!, Hauritz, Wortley, Clark & Carvolth, in preparation).
This summary report is published at this time to give the many organisations and members of the public who have an interest in the outcomes of the project an opportunity to examine some of the data which the evaluation team has been able to collect. This is particularly important, since from its inception the Surfers Project has been "high profile", attracting the interest of politicians, the media, and many local groups.
Details of the processes through which the community intervention was implemented can be found in the project report, prepared by the Project Officer, Gillian Mcilwain (1994) and published through the Commonwealth Department of Health and Human Services. It is not the purpose of the present report to repeat the information in Gillian's report, except in summary form, but rather to focus on the impact of the project.
At one level, there is no doubt that the project was successful, since it succeeded admirably in bringing together many disparate groups, including the owners and managers of many of the licensed premises in the central business district of Surfers. Whether it succeeded in its broader aims of reducing alcohol-related violence and other offences is another question. Many claims have been made for the success of the project, but unless good quality quantitative data are available to support these claims, the public and the scientific community have a right to be sceptical.
As is indicated in this overview, there are grounds for optimism that the project did have a real impact on many of the problems that plague Surfers Paradise and virtually all the other "entertainment areas" of Australia. However, because of limitations in funding, the data we have been able to collect do not allow the conclusion that the project definitely caused the observed declines in aggression, violence, and other offences.
This underlines the need for continuing research and evaluation as the Gold Coast and other communities seek to address the problems of alcohol-related problems through community intervention projects.