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Relief to health system in the pipeline with licensing freeze

Thursday 29 March, 2012

The Alcohol Policy Coalition today welcomed the Victorian Planning Minister's extension of a cap on late night liquor licenses to areas beyond the CBD. Nearly 750 Melbourne venues serve alcohol past 1am, with 140 able to trade for 24hours, meaning there is no need to add more late night licenses.

"The state government and local councils are already struggling to rein in Victoria's $4.3 billion drinking problem, so the Minister's cap makes a lot of sense," said Professor Robin Room, Director, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point.

Research shows that extended trading hours of licensed outlets increases the number of alcohol-related problems, such as violence and other anti-social behaviour. More assaults occur on Friday or Saturday nights when alcohol is available right through the night. New late night licenses will only increase the problem.

"Melbourne is a 24hour, cosmopolitan city, so it's natural for people to be out at all hours, but that doesn't mean alcohol needs to fuel these activities. Taking a break from alcohol sales at 3am means we can reduce the burden from costs to emergency services, police and the health system," said Professor Room.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition has called for an end to alcohol sales beyond 3am in licensed venues and no later than 11pm in packaged liquor outlets.

"While we support this freeze, it's crucial that the government doesn't forget about late-trading bottle-shops. Closing bottle shops by 11pm will help solve problems like pre and post-loading, further reducing alcohol-related harm."

In Victoria alone, alcohol-related harms have increased dramatically in the last two decades as the number of alcohol stores has gone up. The number of drunken 16-17year olds presenting to emergency rooms has increased by 33% for males and 66% for females since 1999.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition encourages local councils to share their views with the Planning Minister, so the community can have their voice heard.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition is a collaboration of health agencies - Australian Drug Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, Heart Foundation (Victoria), Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and VicHealth - with shared concern relating to the misuse of alcohol and its health/social impacts on the community.