Alex Molloy and Alanna Gibson wait for the fireworks at Mrs Macquaries Chair. Photo: Janie Barrett Crowds at Barangaroo park for the New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Photo: Brook Mitchell
A group of men celebrate the new year as the sun rises over Bondi Beach, Sydney Photo: Kate geraghty
New Year’s Eve 2015 was the night Sydney grew up and celebrated responsibly, with police and health professionals saying the message about alcohol-fuelled violence is beginning to sink in.
Arrests were down on previous years and while NSW Ambulance paramedics were busy, call-outs mainly related to minor injuries.
The director of emergency department at St Vincent’s Hospital, Professor Gordian Fulde, said the decline in violent incidents made the night the “best New Year’s Eve ever”.
“We have seen the devastation caused by excess alcohol consumption in previous years and it would appear the message is finally getting through,” he said.
“The culture has improved. We have realised as a society you don’t have to be totally drunk and ugly to enjoy some of the most fabulous fireworks in the world.”
He said the St Vincent’s Hospital emergency department was still busy treating drug- and alcohol-related injuries but it was quieter than in previous years.
“There was still plenty for the troops to do but we didn’t see any major head injuries, fortunately,” he said. “We were surprised by how much better it was.”
City of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore agreed that the city’s drinking culture was changing for the better.
“People manage to drink alcohol in a civilised way in other parts of the world and I think we’re getting more successful at it,” she said. “I think last night was pretty perfect, actually.”
NSW Police did not attend the Lord Mayor’s New Year’s Day press conference at the Sydney Opera House as there were so few incidents to report.
“The police aren’t even here this morning with me to report, because it was such a quiet night – it was like a quiet Monday for them,” she said.
Of the 30 arrests made by NSW Police, half related to illicit drugs.
Police broke up a number of brawls in Sydney’s inner west and a female police officer was injured when she was struck in the head by a bottle at a service station in Shalvey in the city’s west.
NSW Police assistant commissioner Mick Fuller praised the conduct of revellers who flocked to parties and vantage points across the city.
“With only a few exceptions, the vast majority of people in the city for New Year’s Eve behaved safely, sensibly and responsibly,” he said.
The number of arrests was down on previous years. More than 230 people were arrested in Sydney during celebrations last year.
Sydney teenager Daniel Christie was attacked on New Year’s Eve, 2013, dying in hospital 11 days later. More than 170 people were arrested during the festivities that year, with police blaming intoxication for the majority of the crimes.
NSW Ambulance paramedics responded to more than 2300 incidents between 4pm on New Year’s Eve and 5am on Friday, with the bulk of the call-outs in Sydney.
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