Two random acts of violence in Sydney pubs last weekend highlight the need for further cultural education that violence is not acceptable in today’s society.

Both incidents involved men injured through ‘glassings’ by strangers in seemingly unprovoked attacks.

Last Sunday afternoon a man celebrating his birthday with friends at a hotel in Condell Park was struck in the face with a glass by an outsider, who then fled. He sustained eye and facial injuries and was taken to hospital. Police are seeking witnesses.

Around 9:30 the previous night a different man was struck in the face with a glass thrown by one of two women, who had followed him into the men’s toilets following an argument over a spilt drink. He sustained a chipped tooth and cut lip.

While the dangers of glass are well established – as seen in its preclusion from many venues under licensing restriction – the incidents are examples of the underlying cultural acceptance of violence that permeates Australia, and is so often associated, fairly or otherwise, with a proximity to licensed premises.

Melbourne-based anti-violence organisation Step Back Think (SBT) advocates zero tolerance to violence as a societal norm, working with education, organisations and sporting groups to bring about a shift in thinking – particularly amongst tomorrow’s adults.

“Our primary focus is on educating young people about the impacts of what we term ‘social violence’ – that is, interpersonal violence occurring between two or more people in the community,” SBT CEO Anna O’Halloran responded to PubTIC’s request for comment.

“Through primary prevention techniques such as education, we aim to re-shape Australia’s attitudes and beliefs toward violence, and ultimately drive a cultural change to end social violence.”

SBT pushes research-backed messages and works with high schools to bridge the anonymity void between impressions of violence and its cold reality.

“Our objective is to continually remind young people of the real consequences of violence – not only for themselves, but also for their family, friends, and society at large – and to reinforce non-violent messaging, through social media platforms.”

The organisation advocates collaboration in pursuit of further research into social violence. Research to date has been in consultation with Associate Professor Michael Daffern from the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science.

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