Australian states and territories have agreed on a new National Alcohol Strategy that aims to reduce harmful alcohol consumption by 10 per cent by 2025.
The Commonwealth has announced $140 million to prevent and reduce the harms from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This includes $131.5 million over two years to be distributed to Primary Health Networks under the National Ice Action Strategy for drug and alcohol treatment services based on local need.
The National Alcohol Strategy sets out four priority areas:
- improving community safety by introducing safer drinking environments, reducing injury and violence, and improving offender treatment and rehabilitation
- improving management of the availability, price and promotion of alcohol
- Ensuring people have access to treatment, information and support services
- Improving awareness of how alcohol-related harm impacts the Australian community.
The strategy highlights options under each area as examples of activities or initiatives that could be considered at local, state or territory, or national levels, including a mix of broad and targeted approaches.
It acknowledges that alcohol harms can be closely intertwined with mental health problems, a lack of social connection and experiences of trauma, and exacerbated by lack of income, employment, housing and/or education.
Importantly, the strategy shifts the focus from individual harm to individual, community and social harms, and notes that effective interventions require cross-agency responses, including health care, education, social services, liquor regulators, law enforcement, the justice system and local government.
It states that:
- One in four Australians are drinking alcohol at risky levels
- one in two women consume alcohol during their pregnancy
- 10 to 15 per cent of emergency department presentations are alcohol-related
- 25 per cent of frontline police time is taken by alcohol-related crime
- alcohol was the common drug of concern for people accessing specialist treatment in 2017-18, accounting for 35 per cent of treatment episodes
- Alcohol is one of the leading causes of drug-related death, with more than 4000 deaths attributed to alcohol in any year (second only to tobacco)
- a quarter of all road fatalities can be attributed to drink-driving
- alcohol is involved in 34 per cent of intimate partner violence incidents and 29 per cent of family violence incidents
The Commonwealth has allocated funding for research, including:
- More than $7.3 million over three years to extend Australian Institute of Health and Welfare national alcohol and other drug surveys and data collections
- More than $1.5 million for the National Surveillance System for Alcohol and Other Drug Misuse and Overdose Project, Alcohol and Drug Foundation Drug Information Directory and the Drug and Alcohol Review
- $561,000 to support Cancer Council Victoria to update and maintain the Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues publication.
Read the National Alcohol Strategy