Millions of Australians will take the day off on Tuesday to celebrate our national day.
Some will do it in relative privacywith a few friends at a backyard barbecue, whileothers will head to parks and foreshores for community gatherings.
Alcohol is a commoningredient at many of these celebrations. As always, the responsible consumption of alcohol hurts no one and can be a useful social lubricant.
But excessive drinking almost always leads to anti-social behaviour rangingfrom embarrassing andoffensive behaviour to full-blown assaults.
The hangover usually involves public humiliation from family and friends, court appearances and the associated consequences. In addition, there is the toll such behaviour takes on first responders such as police, paramedics, doctors and nurses.
Six years may have past but many police and members of the public will remember the appalling behaviour that marred Australia Day celebrations in Newcastle in 2010.
It is this scenariothat Newcastle Police hope to prevent from recurringon Tuesday by rostering on a sizeable contingentto watch over thecity’s celebrations.
A hundred extra police, including thedog squad, water police, detectives andgeneral duty officers, will monitor traditional trouble spots.
Theyhave warned that alcohol free zones will be strictly enforced and a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour will apply throughout the day.
Senior police are at pains to point out that the extra police presence is not aimed at preventing anyone from enjoying themselves. Rather it is designed to allow people to relax and celebrate in peace without being threatened by an unruly minority.
In addition to anti-social behaviour, excessive drinking inevitably leads to drink-driving and its associated disastrous consequences. Likewise, navigating a vessel under the influenceis also acertain recipefor life-threateningtrouble.
Police hope their presence will helpprevent such incidents before they occur.
By all means, celebrate Australia Day as you see fit. Have a few drinks if you wish, but be mindful of how your behaviour can affect others.
It might also be worthtakinga moment to reflect on theprivileges that are attached toliving in this wonderful country.