“Nothing’s changed,” – 18 months on and violence in emergency departments across Australia is still too common

As the results of the largest survey of alcohol harm in Australasian emergency departments (EDs) is published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) has indicated that the levels of alcohol-fuelled violence remain unacceptable high, imposing a substantial burden on hospital resources and staff.

The survey, which was undertaken by ACEM over 18 months ago and involved 2002 ED clinical staff, revealed the devastating toll of alcohol-related harm on emergency department clinicians and patients. In the year preceding the survey, more than 90% of ED clinicians had experienced physical aggression from a patient affected by alcohol, with 42% experiencing this aggression weekly or monthly. Verbal aggression from patients affected by alcohol was also an ever-present part of clinical life for ED staff. This violence and aggression has wide-ranging impacts, affecting the care of other patients and the wellbeing of clinicians. Clinicians reported that frequent violence and aggression had a negative effect on their wellbeing, affecting staff retention and recruitment. Such violence and aggression also had adverse impacts on other patients and the effective operation of the ED, diverting hospital resources into the management of alcohol-affected patients, and disrupting or delaying care for other patients. Effects on the welfare of and care for other patients, particularly vulnerable groups, are further exacerbated by the disruptive and antisocial behaviours of alcohol-affected people in EDs.

Since the survey was undertaken, the introduction of lockout laws and other trading restrictions have resulted in improvements in some jurisdictions. However, much more needed to be done, with ACEM expressing concern today that alcohol-related violence and aggression continues to be a pervasive feature of emergency departments.

“The legislative action taken in New South Wales and recently in Queensland is commendable and it’s important to acknowledge that progress,” said ACEM President, Associate Professor Anthony Lawler. “But too many EDs in Australia and New Zealand are still suffering from the blight of alcohol. Since this work was done 18 months ago ACEM has completed further research – including an Australia Day survey, a 7-Day survey and a snapshot survey – and the data is clear: alcohol is still having a disproportionately severe impact on our EDs.”

The release of the MJA survey follows on from the recent visit by Ms Katherine Brown from the UK, who reported on a major survey of emergency workers in the UK. This report echoes the findings of the ACEM report and the experiences of other front-line services in Australia, with up to half of police, paramedic, ED and fire services time spent dealing with alcohol-related incidents. The UK report surveyed approximately 5,000 front-line service staff and found that police spent 53% of their time dealing with alcohol-related incidents, ambulance staff 37% and emergency department personnel 25%. The responses revealed a culture of fear and systematic abuse, with three quarters of police respondents and one in two ambulance crews injured in alcohol-related incidents. Between a third and half of all emergency service personnel reported they had suffered sexual harassment or abuse at the hands of intoxicated members of the public. Reflecting on the report and the parallels with Australia, Ms Brown argued that it is crucial that alcohol is not allowed to continue diverting public resources and to threaten community safety.

 

For further information on the MJA article and ACEM statement on the impact of alcohol-affected patients in emergency departments in Australia and New Zealand:

For further information about the UK Report on alcohol’s impact on emergency services:

Galaxy poll: Majority support for retention of NSW trading hour measures

21 February 2016

Polling has found more than two thirds of NSW residents support the continuation of the state government’s measures to reduce alcohol-related violence.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • More than two-thirds (68%) support the continuation of the NSW Government’s measures to reduce alcohol-related violence (including a 3am last drinks and a 1.30am lockout in Sydney, and a 10pm close for bottle shops selling takeaway alcohol across the state).
  • The majority of NSW residents believe Australia has a problem with alcohol (80%), and that more needs to be done to reduce the harm caused by alcohol (79%).
  • The majority (73%) of NSW residents believe that alcohol-related problems in Australia will either remain the same or get worse over the next five to ten years.
  • The majority of NSW residents do not believe that governments (54%), alcohol companies (70%) and pubs and clubs (61%) are doing enough to address alcohol misuse.
  • NSW residents support a number of policies to reduce alcohol-related harms including introducing a closing time for pubs, clubs and bars of no later than 3am (80%), and not allowing alcohol to be sold in supermarkets (64%).
  • More than one in four NSW residents have been affected by alcohol-related violence, with one in six (15%) reporting they have been a direct victim, and one in five stating that a family or friend had been affected by alcohol-related violence.

The survey, which was commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and conducted by Galaxy Research, involved a sample of 353 NSW residents.

View the survey report

Lancet review of substance use in young people highlights burden of alcohol among Australian teens

22 February 2016

A major global review of substance use in young people, published last week in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, confirms that adolescence is a critical period for developing substance use related problems which can affect later health outcomes, and highlights the need for more research and better prevention and intervention worldwide. In Australia, alcohol made up the largest burden among young people, with males being most affected.

The three-part series, led by NDARC Professor Louisa Degenhardt and Professor Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland and co-authored by UNSW Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Dr Emily Stockings, reviewed the evidence for the current nature and patterns of substance use among young people around the world, the potential effects of adolescent substance use later in life, and the effectiveness of prevention, intervention, harm reduction and treatment.

Key findings:

Prevalence and harms

  • Alcohol and illicit drug use account for 14% of the total health harms affecting young people aged 20-24. In this age group in Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and PNG), alcohol and illicit drug use accounted for 22% of health harms.
  • Young adolescence is a period when substance use typically starts and patterns become established, and a large number of adverse health and social outcomes have been associated with substance use. This makes substance use in young people is an important public health concern.

Neurobiological significance of early use

  • Development continues well into the third decade of life and this has heightened the concern over the impact of adolescent use of alcohol and illicit drugs on cognitive and emotional development.
  • A range of studies have suggested that substance ease during adolescence can have a greater neuropsychological effect that substance use later in life, with some suggestion of an increased sensitivity to neurotoxic effects.

Opportunities for prevention

  • Policy interventions such as taxation, controls on minimum age and availability were found to be effective prevention and harm reduction measures for alcohol use.

To read the three papers of the series, click below:

  1. Prevention, early intervention, harm reduction, and treatment of substance use in young people
  2. Why young people’s substance use matters for global health
  3. Prevention, early intervention, harm reduction, and treatment of substance use in young people

Queensland passes laws to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence

18 February 2016

After an eleventh hour deal with cross benchers, the Queensland Parliament has passed Australia’s laws aimed at curbing alcohol-fuelled violence.

The Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, which was introduced into State Parliament in November, is part of an election commitment from the government and aims to reduce violence through reduced trading hours and lockout timeframes.

The new laws will see all licensed pubs and clubs across the state stop serving alcohol at 2am from as soon as 1 July 2016. Venues located in a safe night out precinct will call last drinks at 3am, with a 1am one-way door coming into effect from 1 February 2017.

The legislation also includes a ban on high alcohol content drinks, such as shots, being sold after midnight.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the laws would make Queensland safer and save lives. “The evidence is clear: reduced trading hours leads to reduced violence, and that’s what this Bill delivers. “Doing nothing is not an option. I’ve spoken to countless doctors, nurses, paramedics, police, parents and grandparents who have urged me to take action to curb alcohol-fuelled violence.”

 

See NAAA’s submission to Queensland Inquiry into Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

See ABC News Queensland Parliament passes controversial lockout laws, says state will be ‘safer’

See QLD Government media statement: Palaszczuk Government delivers on tackling alcohol-fuelled violence

NAAA supports Senate Inquiry into alcohol-related violence

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) has backed calls by Senator Glenn Lazarus for an Inquiry into alcohol-related violence, saying that the Government can no longer ignore the need for decisive action to tackle the alcohol-related harms afflicting local communities across Australia.

However, NAAA co-chair Dr John Crozier has urged the Inquiry to adopt a comprehensive approach that addresses the range of alcohol-related harms and the underlying drivers of these harms.

“The reality is that the devastating toll of alcohol isn’t just confined to our city streets on a Saturday night, and we are seeing increasing death, disability, health service burden and social impacts of alcohol across Australia. The Inquiry needs to take a comprehensive approach that focuses on the underlying drivers of these harms, including the price, availability and advertising of alcohol,” said Dr Crozier.

Dr Crozier, who is also Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee, said surgeons and front-line medical staff are confronted with the effects of alcohol misuse daily, treating patients with injuries resulting from road traffic trauma, interpersonal violence and personal accidents that are caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

Senator Lazarus has called upon the Federal Government to show leadership and to work in partnership with all states and territories in developing a national strategy to address the issue.

“While states and territories have introduced some important reforms, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive and coordinated response at a national level,” said Michael Moore, NAAA co-chair and CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia.

“Australia has not had a stand-alone national alcohol strategy since 2011, and the 2014 National Alcohol Policy Scorecard rated the Federal Government as the lowest performing of all the jurisdictions in terms of its efforts to develop and implement evidence-based alcohol policy, mainly due to the absence of a whole-of-government strategic plan to address alcohol-related harm.

“Despite growing community concerns and numerous reviews and reports calling for policy action at a Federal level, we are yet to see alcohol taxation reforms, meaningful regulation of alcohol marketing, or mandatory labelling of alcohol products.

“At the same time, the Government has dismantled key advisory groups including the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (ANHPA), the Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment Advisory Committee, and the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee (NIDAC),” said Mr Moore.

The call for a Senate Inquiry coincides with a Galaxy poll, released yesterday, which shows 80 per cent of Queenslanders believe governments need to do more to address alcohol-related harms. It also follows research, released last week by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, which showed that one in seven patients attending Australian emergency departments on Australia Day were there as a result of alcohol harm.

“The devastating effects of excess alcohol use are comprehensive, and their prevalence is far-reaching; the Government’s approach to this issue must be equally comprehensive and far-reaching if it is to be effective,” Mr Moore said.

“We need a comprehensive and coordinated approach to make a national difference. Political leadership and policy action at a national level is vital, and a comprehensive Inquiry will provide an opportunity to examine the evidence and galvanise a whole-of-government response”.

 Download the media release pdf: NAAA supports Senate Inquiry into alcohol-related violence

Australian Government’s alcohol policy a ‘fizzer’

New results:

  • Majority of Australian jurisdictions scored well below a pass grade in alcohol policy
  • The Australian Federal Government scored the lowest result and has received the 2014 Fizzers award.
  • ACT led the country again in alcohol policy for 2014, while NSW received the award for ‘most improved’.

For the second year running the Australian Federal Government has received the annual Fizzers award today by the National Alliance of Action on Alcohol (NAAA) for its inaction in developing and implementing alcohol policy in 2014.

Representing more than 70 organisations, NAAA was formed in 2009 to strengthen and improve policies that prevent alcohol-related harm and in 2013, the alliance introduced the National Alcohol Policy Scorecard to assess the policy response of Australian jurisdictions.

The Australian Federal Government’s performance was very poor, scoring the lowest result overall (9%) on the national scorecard, a drop of 20 percent from last year.

Professor Mike Daube, Co-Chair of the NAAA and Public Health Association of Australia alcohol spokesperson was disappointed with the overall results of the 2014 National Alcohol Policy Scorecard.

“The majority of jurisdictions again did not score well this year for their alcohol policies, with all scoring below a pass grade (less than 50%). The Australian Government was by far the lowest performing jurisdiction in the country and in recognition of this has received the 2014 Fizzers award,” said Professor Daube.

“It’s disappointing that the Australian Government is falling even further behind the rest of the country when it comes to developing and implementing evidence-based policies that reduce alcohol-related harm,” said Professor Daube.

“Their low score largely reflects the lack of action and deep funding cuts in a number of key alcohol policy areas. The most critical shortcomings include the lack of a national alcohol strategy since 2010, and inaction in the areas of alcohol taxation, regulation of alcohol marketing, and labelling of alcohol products. Other backward steps also include the Government’s dismantling of a number of key advisory groups such as the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) and the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (ANPHA) and ending the Be The Influence sports sponsorship program.

In contrast, the ACT government remained on top for the second year with the highest score overall (48%) and will receive an award in recognition of its achievements.

Rank Jurisdiction Total points achieved  Total possible points  Final score (%)
 1  ACT  13.5  28  48
 2  WA  12  28  45
 3  NSW  11.5  28  41
 4  VIC  11.5  28  41
 5  TAS  10  28  36
 6  QLD  9  28  32
 7  NT  8.5  28  30
 8  SA  8.5  28  30
 9  FEDERAL  2.5  27  9

 

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT: National Alcohol Policy Scorecard 2014 Results: Benchmarking Australian Governments’ Progress Towards Preventing & Reducing Alcohol Related Harm

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
Todd Harper, Professor Mike Daube and Michael Thorn are available for interview.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a NAAA spokesperson please contact:

Emma Fay, Cancer Council Victoria, 0415 477 537

Amy Smith, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, 0422 385 240

NSW Government’s alcohol policy ‘most improved’

New results:

  • Majority of Australian jurisdictions scored well below a pass grade in alcohol policy
  • NSW received the award for the ‘most improved’ due to the major reforms introduced in 2014.
  • The Australian Federal Government scored the lowest result and has received the 2014 Fizzers award.

The New South Wales (NSW) Government has been crowned the ‘most improved’ jurisdiction by the National Alliance of Action on Alcohol (NAAA) in recognition of the major alcohol policy reforms which were introduced during 2014.

Representing more than 70 organisations, NAAA was formed in 2009 to strengthen and improve policies that prevent alcohol-related harm and in 2013 the alliance introduced the National Alcohol Policy Scorecard to assess the policy response of Australian jurisdictions.

This year the NSW Government has received the ‘most improved’ award, after the State’s overall alcohol policy score increased by 10 percent from 2013, rising to 41%. The considerable year-on-year improvement is a reflection of the major alcohol reforms announced last January.

NAAA spokesperson, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education Chief Executive, Michael Thorn commended the NSW Government for their strong leadership in 2014.

“The results of this year’s National Alcohol Policy Scorecard highlight that NSW is on the right track when it comes to the prevention and reduction of the State’s heavy alcohol toll. Each day in NSW alcohol is responsible for 66 assaults, 28 emergency department presentations, 142 hospitalisations and three deaths,” Mr Thorn said.

“NSW improved alcohol policy score reflects the strong action taken by the Government following the tragic events in Sydney last summer, which saw the death of Daniel Christie and a community campaign led by medical, public health and law enforcement organisations.”

The package of measures included the introduction of 3am last drinks and 1:30am lockouts in the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD precincts, a state-wide 10pm closing time for all bottle shops, a ban on high risk liquor promotions, and the introduction of annual risk-based licensing fee for all liquor outlets.

In contrast to the progress shown by NSW, the Australian Federal Government’s performance was very poor, scoring the lowest result overall (9%) on the national scorecard and dropping 20% from last year, largely reflecting the lack of action and deep funding cuts in a number of key alcohol policy areas. The ACT Government remained on top for the second year with the highest overall score (48%) and will receive an award in recognition of its achievements.

Professor Mike Daube, Co-Chair of the NAAA and Public Health Association of Australia alcohol spokesperson was disappointed with the overall results of the 2014 National Alcohol Policy Scorecard.

“The majority of jurisdictions again did not score well this year for their alcohol policies, with all scoring well below a pass grade (less than 50%). The Australian Government was by far the lowest performing jurisdiction in the country and in recognition of this has received the 2014 Fizzers award,” said Professor Daube.

The NAAA has called for action in three priority areas – alcohol pricing and taxation, alcohol marketing and promotion and alcohol availability – supported by strong education and information programs.

“While it is important to acknowledge the significant improvements to NSW alcohol policy over the last twelve months, effective harm reduction does not begin and end with those measures and there is much more to be done to better protect the community. With the NSW State Election fast approaching in March, now is the time for politicians to commit to an evidence-based state-wide plan of action and to continue the job that was started last January,” Mr Thorn said.

Ranking of Total Scores, 2014 National Alcohol Policy Scorecard

Rank

Jurisdiction

Total points achieved

Total possible points

Final score (%)

1

ACT

13.5

28

48

2

WA

12.0

28

45

3

NSW

11.5

28

41

4

VIC

11.5

28

41

5

TAS

10.0

28

36

6

QLD

9.0

28

32

7

NT

8.5

28

30

8

SA

8.5

28

30

9

FEDERAL

2.5

27

9


DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT: National Alcohol Policy Scorecard 2014 Results: Benchmarking Australian Governments’ Progress Towards Preventing & Reducing Alcohol Related Harm

ACT Government leading the way in alcohol policy

New results:

  • Majority of Australian jurisdictions scored well below a pass grade in alcohol policy
  • ACT led the country again in alcohol policy for 2014
  • The Australian Federal Government scored the lowest result and has received the 2014 Fizzers award.

The ACT Government has received the National Alcohol Policy Scorecard award by the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) for its continuing efforts to improve and strengthen alcohol policy in the jurisdiction.

Representing more than 70 organisations, NAAA was formed in 2009 to strengthen and improve policies that prevent alcohol-related harm and in 2013, the alliance introduced the National Alcohol Policy Scorecard to assess the policy response of Australian jurisdictions.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government is the national leader for the second year running, receiving the highest overall score of 48% in the 2014 alcohol policy scorecard.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr accepted the award from NAAA spokesperson, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Michael Thorn who praised the ACT Government for leading the National Alcohol Policy Scorecard.

“The results highlight that the ACT Government is continuing to do well when it comes to taking a multi-faceted, whole-of-government approach in the prevention and reduction of alcohol-related harm. The ACT currently leads the rest of the country in almost all areas of alcohol policy and is being duly recognised for this with the award presented today,” Mr Thorn said.

“The ACT Government has demonstrated strong leadership through its measurable plan, drink driving laws, robust risk-based licensing fee structure and commitment to evaluation and improvement through its current review of the Liquor Act. The ACT is also moving towards introducing secondary supply laws that further protect young people from alcohol-related harms.”

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the ACT Government is committed to continually reviewing its policies in order to try and reduce the harm associated with alcohol abuse.

“It is a pleasure to accept this award today which acknowledges the successes we have had in this area in recent years. Being judged as the best jurisdiction in Australia is a positive indication that we are on the right path in terms of our alcohol policy. However, there is always more work to be done so I look forward to working with the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol and other stakeholders to further strengthen the ACT’s policies related to alcohol in the future,” said Chief Minister Barr.

In contrast, the Australian Federal Government’s performance was very poor, scoring the lowest result overall (9%) on the national scorecard, a drop of 20 percent from last year, largely reflecting the lack of action and deep funding cuts in a number of key alcohol policy areas.

NSW received the award for most improved, moving upwards by 10 percentage points (to 41%) from 2013, reflecting the major reforms introduced by the NSW government during 2014, including the introduction of 1:30am lockouts and 3:00am last drinks in Sydney’s CBD, bans on the sale of shots after midnight, a state-wide 10pm closing time for all bottle shops, a ban on high risk promotions, and a community awareness campaign to address binge drinking.

Professor Mike Daube, Co-Chair of the NAAA and Public Health Association of Australia’s alcohol spokesperson praised the ACT for its achievement but was disappointed with the results of the 2014 scorecard.

“This is the second time that the ACT has come out on top on the National Alcohol Policy Scorecard and that is to be commended.” said Professor Daube. “However, the majority of jurisdictions again did not score well this year for their alcohol policies, with all scoring below a pass grade (less than 50%). The Australian Government was by far the lowest performing jurisdiction in the country and in recognition of this has received the 2014 Fizzers award.”

The NAAA has called for action in three priority areas – alcohol pricing and taxation, alcohol marketing and promotion and alcohol availability – supported by strong education and information programs.

“While the ACT Government currently leads the country in alcohol policy, there are still actions it can take to better protect the community from alcohol-related harms. This should start with the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 review of the Liquor Act, including amending trading hours and outlet density controls, strengthening regulations on harmful discounting and promotions and increasing community engagement in liquor licensing decisions,” Mr Thorn said. 

Ranking of Total Scores, 2014 National Alcohol Policy Scorecard

Rank

Jurisdiction

Total points achieved

Total possible points

Final score (%)

1

ACT

13.5

28

48

2

WA

12.0

28

45

3

NSW

11.5

28

41

4

VIC

11.5

28

41

5

TAS

10.0

28

36

6

QLD

9.0

28

32

7

NT

8.5

28

30

8

SA

8.5

28

30

9

FEDERAL

2.5

27

9


DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT: National Alcohol Policy Scorecard 2014 Results: Benchmarking Australian Governments’ Progress Towards Preventing & Reducing Alcohol Related Harm

Summit of experts and leaders call for new national strategy to stop alcohol harm

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) has welcomed the call from this week’s national summit of experts and leaders for a new national alcohol strategy to address Australia’s harmful drinking culture.

The Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) national alcohol summit held in Canberra over the past two days has brought together representatives from all tiers of government, community leaders, medical and health experts, police, families of victims, and other stakeholders to develop practical measures and enduring solutions.

Professor Mike Daube, Co-Chair of the NAAA said “We congratulate the AMA for its leadership in hosting this historic summit which has culminated in recommendations for a new national alcohol strategy to stop the harm caused by alcohol in Australia.”

“However the strategy must translate into real action by governments, not further delays or compromises which ultimately costs thousands of lives,” Prof Daube said.

“All Australians are affected in some way by the negative effects of alcohol. We know what the cause of the problems are and we know what the effective solutions are. We now need action”, Prof Daube said.

  • Alcohol kills one Australian teenager every week.
  • 41% of domestic assaults are alcohol related.
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the most common preventable cause of developmental disability in Australia.
  • Alcohol hospitalises Indigenous Australians at 4 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.
  • 3 in 4 Australians believe our community has a drinking problem.

Professor Daube said “Every day, alcohol is responsible for the deaths of 15 Australians, and the worst thing about this tragedy is that most of the harm is preventable.”

Some clear priorities for government action have emerged from the summit, including: reform of the alcohol tax system, protecting young people from alcohol advertising, and a comprehensive awareness campaign about the health risks of alcohol.

“These are all evidence-based strategies that the NAAA supports because they can significantly reduce alcohol related harm in Australia,” Professor Daube said.

Control alcohol advertising and protect kids

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) has today urged the Government to act speedily to protect children from dangerously high levels of alcohol advertising following the release of a new report on alcohol advertising by the Australian National Preventive Health Agency today.

Professor Mike Daube AO, Co-Chair of the NAAA and alcohol spokesperson for the Public Health Association of Australia, said Australian families are under siege from alcohol marketing, with children often seeing more alcohol advertising than adults.

“Alcohol has a devastating impact on individuals and the community. It’s time to protect kids from the relentless pressure to drink that comes from unrestrained alcohol advertising on TV, through sports sponsorship and in social media, at all times of the day, 365 days of the year,” Professor Daube said.

“This new report makes it abundantly clear that the Government should act to end the loophole permitting TV alcohol promotion through sport, and end the current charade of industry self-regulation.”

Todd Harper, Co-Chair of the NAAA and CEO of Cancer Council Victoria said: “An obvious first step to protect children from alcohol advertising is to close the regulatory loopholes that allows advertising of alcohol products on television during children’s viewing hours, that is, during live sport telecasts.”

“Sports on TV are extremely popular with children, even more so than some cartoons. So, if we stop alcohol advertising there, we can start protecting children from the powerful marketing forces encouraging them to drink.”

“International research shows that children who regularly see alcohol advertising are more likely to start drinking at a younger age, and drink at harmful levels as an adult. Much of this marketing also has the effect of reinforcing the harmful drinking culture in Australia.”

“Alcohol takes a massive toll on the community, causing mental illness, violence, child abuse, and diseases such as liver cirrhosis and several types of cancer that could be prevented. The time has come for responsible regulation, established by government and backed by sanctions for serious non-compliance,” Mr Harper said.

Professor Daube added that the NAAA also urged the government to reconsider its widely-criticised decision to defund the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), the nation’s peak alcohol and drug treatment and services organisation.

“This bizarre decision was taken without consultation and warning. There is still time to overturn the decision before ADCA closes its doors at the end of the week.”

“Decisions such as those on alcohol advertising and the future of ADCA will show whether the Government has any serious intention of changing Australia’s drinking culture and protecting children from predatory alcohol companies”.