Operation Unite

This morning while I was getting ready for work, the hottest topic on the radio was the new Operation Unite initiative from both the Australian and New Zealand police.  It was splashed across all of the major papers, in articles just like this one from the Brisbane Times.

For those of you who haven’t heard the news yet, here’s the first three paragraphs from the article:

Police around Australia and in New Zealand will take two days of co-ordinated action in a major crackdown on binge drinking and alcohol-fuelled violence.

Operation Unite, launched in Perth on Thursday by state and territory police chiefs joined by a representative of the NZ police force, will be the biggest joint police operation ever staged in Australia.

During the 48-hour blitz on December 11 and 12, extra police and special units will flood major trouble spots to discourage excessive drinking, said to be the nation’s greatest social ill.

It sounds pretty full on, doesn’t it?

I’m not entirely sure announcing a crackdown on particular dates is going to really achieve much, I’d have thought simply implementing a permanent programme to address the issue would have been the best step, but the article does say that it isn’t just a one off weekend blitz.

I know it seems terribly grumpy old woman of me, but something does need to happen to change this.  I do understand that it doesn’t seem like violence and aggression is escalating to most young people under 25.  It probably feels like it has always been the same way to them.  But ask anyone who has a few more years behind them, and there is a palpable difference in the level of violence and aggression that is around today, compared to what it was like ten, and even 20 years ago.

And not just out on a Friday or Saturday night either.  It’s there all the time.  On public transport, on our roads, in our schools and workplaces, at the beach, even in public libraries!  This morning I saw a guy aggressively abuse a bus driver when he didn’t have enough fare for the trip.  Road rage happens all the time.  Bullying is getting more violent both in schools and the workplace, with cases of people even dying because of it.  People are getting beat up at the beach for a few dollars and their mobile phone.  I know of cases in public libraries where customers have come to blows over internet computer bookings.

There has been a cultural shift within the past ten years that sees many people believing that aggressiveness and violence is acceptable behaviour.  Not just what is reported in the media either, which I know is often played up for sensationalism, but just in my experience and the experiences of people I know.

I don’t pretend to know the answers.  It’s been bandied around that parents need to be teaching children that aggression and violence is never the answer, and that they should have some respect for authority.  I think that would certainly contribute, but I don’t think it’s the only answer.  We need to shift the attitudes culturally.  Maybe the way to do that is to hit people where it really hurts, their wallets?

Recently there was a case of a glassing at a hotel here in Brisbane where the perpetrator was identified and arrested.  I have heard that the owner of the hotel may be suing the perpetrator.  Maybe this is the tack we need to take.  In the case of the hotelier, his venue has now got a bad reputation, his business is probably damaged and he has had the general cleanup and recovery after the event itself.  He may even have to change his entire bar ware to plastic if the Queensland Government follow through with their proposal to enforce plastic “glassware” to the pubs with the worst reputation.

So why shouldn’t he sue the goon who has caused all of this?  And perhaps if the said goon lost a considerable sum of money, and I’m not talking a couple of hundred dollars on a fine or a slap on the wrist probation, he might think about doing it again, and other goons might  hear about it and have a second think before getting aggro and violent.

Of course, I don’t believe this is the only answer.  Teaching kids about alcohol helps, it was always taboo for me, so I was nicking it from a very early age, and was a huge drinker from my teens through to late 20’s.  I wish it hadn’t been such a way of rebellion for me, I regret the amount I drank in my youth.  Education about drugs too for that matter, especially those drugs that encourage violent and aggressive behaviour like ice.

That, coupled with stronger penalties for those found guilty of violent, aggressive behaviour, a strong police presence on Friday and Saturday nights in public places around nightclubs and bars, as well as on public transport, where I know the level of aggression has skyrocketed, and perhaps some kind of societal campaign to highlight just what douchebags people who behave in a violent and aggressive manner are might just be what will shift the culture that is allowing this kind of behaviour.

Something has to give, because if it doesn’t, we’re going to find these crackdowns becoming curfews, lock outs and prohibition, which I think are pointless and excessively prohibitive.


November 19, 2009. aggression, anger, attitudes, bad behaviour, cultural change, douchebags, Operation Unite, opinions, police, social problems, violence.


  1. Kerri Baillie replied:

    There is an underlying level of sinister aggression that is always lurking – i was rather startled to hear that one of my sister’s closest friends who is a gorgeous happy girl when sober gets quite nasty when drunk and has actually shoved a glass towards my sister’s face in a snit whilst drunk and only quick reflexes on my sister’s part deflected a potentially very nasty injury. It seems indeed that an entire cultural shift is required but where to start?

    • sleepydumpling replied:

      Not someone I’d want to be friends with Kerri!

  2. ellie replied:

    I am beginning to realise that there is a huge generation of young people and their parents who find it difficult to express their emotions – especially young men. More often than not we are told to just get over it if we are upset about something. Sometimes this is a good coping mechanism. Sometimes it isn’t.

    Pent up frustration and aggression will inevitably come out when people are confronted with a narcotic that takes away your inhibitions. It’s very sad. I only hope in generations to come that people find better ways to express their emotions.

    • sleepydumpling replied:

      The thing is though, our grandparents and beyond were truly a silent generation, it was a “suck it up and get on with life” mentality, but they never had the level of aggression that we see today. Admittedly through the 60’s and 70’s (fucking babyboomers!) it was all allowed to hang out, but before that it was very formal and unexpressed.

      I think we ALLOW it more than we ever did before. It’s ok for people to be aggro and rude now where it was socially unacceptable before.

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