Time to say 'when' on alcohol harm in Victoria

Friday 21 March, 2014

Earlier closing times can reduce harm

The Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) today called on all Victorian political parties to introduce key liquor licensing reforms, including earlier closing times and alcohol service restrictions, as part of its newly launched election policy platform for the 2014 State election, "Five steps to a safer, healthier Victoria".

APC spokesperson, Dr Stephen Parnis, President of AMA (Victoria), said: "We are calling on the Government and Opposition to prioritise the implementation of effective alcohol policies that improve
public health and safety and reduce harm."

Evidence shows that strategies which reduce availability of liquor, including reducing trading hours, can have significant impacts in reducing the level of harm caused by alcohol.

"We are calling on all the parties to commit to introducing restrictions on service, so that alcohol is no longer served in pubs and clubs after 3am, together with a range of supportive measures to reduce the social, physical and mental harm caused by alcohol," Dr Parnis said.

APC spokesperson, Sam Biondo, Executive Officer of the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association said: "Alcohol related harm-which includes assaults and chronic diseases-continues to be a
significant issue for the Victorian community. While Victoria has taken some steps forward, namely risk-based licencing, we know that more action is required."

Alcohol remains a major cause of preventable death and illness across the state.

  • Between 2000 and 2010 there was a 93% increase in emergency department presentations for intoxication and hospital admissions for alcohol related injuries increased by 32%.
  • A point in time survey conducted in December 2013 found that as many as 1 in 3 hospital admissions were related to alcohol.
  • Alcohol-related harms cost the Victorian economy more than $4 billion every year. This includes direct costs to the government of approximately $366 million.
  • Alcohol consumption accounts for just over 3% of the total burden of disease and in injury in Australia; this figure is higher for men where alcohol consumption accounts for nearly 5% of the disease burden.
  • It is estimated that around 5000 cases of cancer (or 5% of all cancers) are attributable to long-term chronic use of alcohol each year.

This is something we have to change.

APC spokesperson, Todd Harper, CEO of Cancer Council Victoria said: "An important part of changing our harmful drinking culture is implementing proven and effective alcohol policy reforms, including reducing exposure of young people to alcohol advertising, because of the link between advertising and harmful drinking in young people, " he said.

"New research by Cancer Council Victoria shows 77% of Victorians surveyed approved or strongly approved of alcohol advertising restrictions to reduce exposure among people aged 18 and younger.
This is another key strategy in our five step action plan to reduce alcohol-related harm in Victoria."

To view the full five step action plan, visit www.alcoholpolicycoalition.org.au .

Five Step Action Plan for a Safer, Healthier Victoria

  1. WHEN WE DRINK: Introduce 3 am as the latest time for serving alcohol in pubs and clubs; maintain and extend the freeze on granting new late night licences and make 10 pm the latest closing time for packaged liquor outlets.
  2. WHERE WE DRINK: Tailor approaches to liquor licensing in high risk areas; introduce tighter controls on the number of liquor licences and prioritise harm minimisation in liquor licensing.
  3. HOW WE DRINK: Promote safer consumption of alcohol including by introducing responsible service requirements for secondary supply and tightening controls on the availability of packaged liquor.
  4. DRINK MESSAGES: Reduce exposure to alcohol advertising for children and continue community awareness and media campaigns to address the culture of binge drinking and the associated alcohol related violence.
  5. POLICY EVALUATION: Collect standardised alcohol sales data in order to evaluate the effectiveness of any new reforms.

For media enquiries please contact Cairin Conway on 0406 524 562 or Rebecca Cook on 0438 316 435.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) is a collaboration of health and social agencies - Australian Drug Foundation, Australian Medical Association (Victoria), Cancer Council Victoria, Public Health Association of Australia (Victoria), the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Turning Point, the Uniting Church-Synod of Victoria and Tasmania and the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association - with shared concern relating to the misuse of alcohol and its health/social impacts on the community. Alcohol remains one of the major causes of preventable death and illness in Australia. As such, the APC advocates for evidence based policy to prevent and reduce the harms caused by alcohol to Australians. For more information, visit www.alcoholpolicycoalition.org.au .