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Binge drinking and drug use targeted in new action plan

7 Dec 2015

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Cameron Dick

7 December 2015

The Palaszczuk Government has launched a new action plan to target Queensland’s problem with binge drinking and other drug-related harms.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick today released the Queensland Alcohol and Other Drugs Action Plan 2015–17, prepared in conjunction with the Queensland Mental Health Commission.

The plan outlines 54 actions across multiple agencies to prevent and reduce the adverse impact of alcohol and other drugs on Queenslanders’ health and wellbeing.

“This plan reflects the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to boost prevention and treatment initiatives, introduce new laws to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence and expand smoke-free zones,” Mr Dick said.

“It will ensure the right strategies are integrated across government and community agencies to curb the scourge on our society that is alcohol and other drugs and reduce the impact these substances are having on individuals, families and health services.”

The plan includes actions aimed at reducing the number of young people using drugs, changing Queensland’s drinking culture and improving access to drug treatment and support services.

This includes the establishment of Drug and Alcohol Brief Intervention Teams at Logan, Townsville and Rockhampton Hospitals’ Emergency Departments, as recently announced as part of the Government’s $6 million package to address ice use.

The plan also includes the Government’s recent introduction of legislation to reduce alcohol service hours and ban the sale of rapid consumption and high-alcohol content drinks after midnight.

Mr Dick said the Government would continue to implement initiatives and new laws to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in Queensland.

“All you have to do is walk into one of our emergency departments on the weekend to see the level of harm alcohol and other drugs is causing,” he said.

“That is why our Government has committed to working together with the community sector to address the problem of binge drinking and alcohol-fuelled violence in our state.”

Mr Dick said Queenslanders continued to drink alcohol at risky levels and smoke cigarettes at levels exceeding other Australians.

Forty per cent of Queenslanders engage in single-occasion risky drinking, with one-third of young adults drinking 11 or more standard drinks on a single occasion.

“It’s time for all Queenslanders to change their relationship with alcohol,” he said.

“We have a culture that accepts excessive drinking, but we see firsthand every weekend that this level of drinking is causing significant distress in our community.”

Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck agreed, saying excessive drinking needs to become socially unacceptable, much like smoking is now less accepted.

“One approach is to boost education and awareness about safe drinking and alcohol-related violence, and another is new laws,” she said.

“New laws, treatment services and enforcement can only do so much. We really need people to take responsibility for their drinking behaviour, change their attitude towards it and understand the harms alcohol and other drugs can cause.”

The action plan supports government and community action across three areas:

  • Demand reduction to prevent the uptake and delay onset of drug use, reduce the use of drugs, and support people who are dependent to recover and reconnect with community
  • Supply reduction to prevent, stop and disrupt or otherwise reduce the production and supply of illegal drugs; and control, manage and/or regulate the availability of legal drugs
  • Harm reduction to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Mr Dick said a reference group partnering government agencies, non-government organisations and professional bodies would oversee the implementation of the action plan.

“This plan is all about delivering better collaboration across the government and community sector to target binge drinking and drug use over the next two years,” he said.

View the plan

Go to the media statement