A coalition of leading health and community groups has congratulated the Minister for Liquor and Gaming Regulation, Edward O'Donohue for taking a health-centred approach to liquor licencing with the announcement of a rise in fees for large supermarket-style liquor barns.
Large supermarket-style outlets with a liquor floor-space of more than 1000m2 will pay an annual $10,000 licence fee, up from $1,880.80. It is anticipated that the revenue will be used to fund community projects targeting alcohol-related harm.
Alcohol Policy Coalition spokesperson, Sondra Davoren, said the announcement was a positive step in reforming Victoria's liquor laws and alcohol policy more generally.
"Alcohol is a major cause of preventable death and illness across our state, and the availability and price of packaged liquor is strongly associated with rates of domestic violence and the incidence of chronic alcohol-related disease. Large packaged liquor outlets are able to sell alcohol at significantly cheaper prices than smaller independent stores. If this new fee decreases the number of super-stores in the state or at the very least sees extra funds being directed into programs to help those affected by alcohol then this announcement is a step in the right direction," said Ms Davoren.
Large packaged liquor barns have been proliferating across Victoria over the past 10 years. Between 1993 and 2008 the number of bottle-shops in the state increased by more than 80%. A recent study run by VicHealth has demonstrated that very few Victorians want to see the growth of alcohol outlets continuing, with just 2% of respondents feeling that there were not enough packaged liquor outlets.
Ms Davoren said it was important that the government put in place policies around how the funds earmarked for ‘community projects targeting alcohol-related harm' would be directed.
"In order to reap the greatest benefits to the community, it is vital that these new funds are not simply replacing existing funding; that they are directed to projects with strategies for which there is evidence of effectiveness in reducing alcohol-related harms; and that the allocation process is at arms-length from political considerations," she said.
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 over 3% of the total burden of disease and 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.
For more information visit www.alcoholpolicycoalition.org.au