Randwick Council have extended an alcohol prohibition on Coogee Beach to cover all Eastern Suburbs beaches this festive season. Photo: Jade Morellini

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BY JADE MORELLINI

After introducing a permanent ban on the consumption of alcohol at Coogee Beach, Randwick Council has extended the ban to other Eastern Suburbs’ beaches, from Clovelly to La Perouse, over this festive season. This has provoked anger amongst locals who disagree.

The alcohol ban at Coogee was put in place after 15 tonnes of rubbish was left on Coogee beach last year during Christmas Day celebrations.
Influencing the spread of the ban to other beaches is the NSW Police force’s Eastern Beaches Local Area Command Superintendent, Karen McCarthy, who wants the ban to cover Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Australia Day.

Many locals disagree with the decision; particularly young people who feel they are being targeted by the authorities and will now have to find a new place to enjoy a social drink during the festive season.
Frequent beach-goer, Ian Morrison, said, “I remember a year ago when they had heaps of rubbish left on Coogee beach. Maybe if they just put huge bins there instead of cancelling it that would have helped, but I don’t agree with it, I think we should be allowed to drink responsibly.”

Randwick Council believe alcohol-free beaches will make it safer for families and children, allowing them to enjoy the beach without disturbance, but sometimes parents want to join the celebration.
Coogee Chamber of Commerce president Bernadette Summers told FairFax Media, “Sometimes families want to be able to go out and enjoy a glass of wine with a picnic.”

NSW Police requested the ban as it proved to be a success in reducing social disturbance at Coogee Beach, especially on warmer days when it is an attractive spot for visitors.
Council Officer Allan Graham wrote to the council saying, “This request from police … is based on the reasonable assumption that many of the city’s beachside parks and reserves will be the preferred destination for large crowds of people who wish to celebrate the festive season and Australia Day in a beachside setting.”

Young people who frequently spend New Year’s or Australia Day at the beach said they were “angry” and “really annoyed” with the ban, as it is pushing them out and forcing them to find a new place to spend their day.
“Alcohol is a core part of celebrations, it’s part of our Aussie culture to enjoy a beer at the beach with a group of friends. And now we can’t even do that, I guess we’re going to have to find somewhere else to go where alcohol isn’t banned,” Morrison said.

24-year-old beach goer, Oscar Clifford-Smith said: “I think this is really unfair, a few people shouldn’t ruin it for everyone. They shouldn’t ban it, they should try and fix the problem not just eradicate it entirely, because I can’t afford to rent a private beach house like most adults can.”

Educating the public to the problems alcohol is causing on the beach, to try and prevent unsafe behaviour, could be a strategy to control use of alcohol rather than prohibiting it altogether.
23-year-old beach goer Maria Castro said, “They shouldn’t prohibit it, but they should make people more conscious of the problems that alcohol causes. I mean it’s a celebration and everyone likes to drink alcohol, but maybe create more awareness on the problems cans or beer bottles can cause for the ocean such as contamination. They shouldn’t prohibit it because even if it’s prohibited, maybe people will do it anyway.”

22-year-old beach goer Sofia Valori said, “I think we should be allowed to celebrate, but in a safe way. Just because we have alcohol it doesn’t mean we’re going to be unsafe or bother anyone else. The people who cause problems, they are not everyone. Yeah they should be able to control the use of alcohol, but don’t ban it completely.”