Federal Budget: Hope for the next generation

The Federal Budget released today shows the Government is taking positive steps to address the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) rates in Australia.

Investing in FASD prevention shows the Government is committed to lowering the FASD rates to improve quality of life for the next generation. A national register would go a long way to further supporting this initiative.

“FASD is a life sentence for those born with it – there is no cure,” said National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) co-chair and Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee Dr John Crozier.

“FASD devastates families and communities. It can have major impacts on children’s intellectual ability and behaviours, putting pressure on health care services,” said Dr Crozier.

“This initiative is aimed at three key aspects of FASD: clinician education, prevention and research. This support is key to prevent FASD by empowering women with the right information to make educated decisions about the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant,” says Dr Crozier.

“The clinical network and information resources that will be made available to clinicians are an important step in improving patient outcomes and helping clinicians better understand how FASD affects their patients,” Dr Crozier said.

“Allocation of funds in tonight’s budget is an important step in the right direction, but it won’t solve the FASD problem in Australia,” said Dr Crozier.

NAAA calls on the Government to establish and fund a central register of people diagnosed with fetal alcohol, similar to the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register. Action should also include comprehensive steps to reduce harmful drinking throughout the community.

Alcohol related items in the Federal Budget will be reviewed over the coming week by NAAA.



Amy Kimber – 0437 144 050



For pdf of media release: 160503 Hope for the next generation

Stop advertising alcohol on public transport: new report calls for government action

A new report from the Alcohol Advertising Review Board (AARB) calls on state and territory governments to remove alcohol advertising from public transport.

The report, ‘No way to ignore it: The case for removing alcohol ads from public transport’, highlights the extent of alcohol advertising on public transport and transit stops in Australia, the substantial community concern around young people’s exposure to alcohol promotion on these sites, and what state/territory and local governments can do.

The report was released alongside findings from an audit of Perth bus stop ads by the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth. The audit found that 53% of the 584 bus stop ads identified were for alcohol, junk food and sugary drinks.

The report has been sent to all state and territory transport and health ministers, and relevant Federal Ministers, calling on them to amend advertising contracts or existing legislation to prohibit alcohol ads on buses, trains and trams, and at train stations and bus stops. In September last year, the ACT became the first – and so far the only – jurisdiction to impose a ban on alcohol advertising on public transport.

For further information:

Alcohol tax reform will save lives and money

New economic modelling makes clear the substantial monetary and health benefits of a fairer alcohol tax regime and adds further weight to calls by the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) for an overhaul of Australia’s broken alcohol tax system.

“Australia’s current system for taxing alcohol is incoherent and flawed from both a public health and economic perspective: it favours the production and consumption of cheap alcohol, contributes to the growing burden of alcohol-related harms, and does not recoup the costs of these harms across the Australian community,” said Dr John Crozier, Co-Chair of the NAAA and Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee.

The economic modelling, undertaken by ACIL Allen Consulting and commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), shows that a ten percent increase to all alcohol excise, combined with changes that tax wine according the its alcohol content, would generate $2.9 billion in revenue and result in a 9.4 percent reduction in alcohol consumption.

“This modelling demonstrates that alcohol tax reform is both an economic and health imperative, with the potential to reduced alcohol-related harms, offset the economic costs that result from these harms, and contribute to Government revenue”, said Dr Crozier.

Reforming Australia’s alcohol taxation regime and replacing the WET with a volumetric tax has been supported by numerous economic and taxation experts and ten separate Government reviews.

“Urgent reform is needed to address the $36 billion in social and health costs that alcohol use causes each year,” said Mr Michael Moore, Co-Chair of NAAA and CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

“As the Government grapples with the challenges of a budget deficit and shortfall in government revenue, alcohol tax reform has the potential to not only reduce the economic spill-over costs from alcohol harms, but to also generate the revenue needed to finance our health, education and service systems”, said Mr Michael Moore.

“It’s important to remember that we’re not just talking about lost tax revenue. Each year in Australia alcohol kills 5,500 Australians and hospitalises a further 157,000, exacting a substantial toll on communities and service systems. That toll could be reduced by abolishing the WET, and replacing it with a more equitable and efficient tax,” Mr Moore said.

“Alcohol taxation and pricing have been shown to be the most effective policy option for reducing alcohol-related harms, particularly among heavy drinkers and young people. Alcohol taxation reform is a major public health and social policy issue in this country and urgent action and leadership is required to improve health, restore quality of life, and save lives,” said Mr Moore.





Amy Kimber – 0437 144 050



Sophie Brown – 0421 749 608


For pdf of media release: 160308 Alcohol tax reform will save lives and money_FINAL



Australia’s alcohol advertising regulations are a “disgrace”: weakened alcohol advertising rules prompt renewed calls for reform

A watering down of alcohol advertising regulations in Australia has prompted renewed criticism of Australia’s current system for regulation alcohol advertising on television from public health groups, alcohol policy experts and leading medical colleges.

As reported by MJA Insight, last Thursday the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) released a new joint Alcohol Policy, in which they called for the phasing out of all alcohol sports sponsorships and the ceasing of advertisements during live games and broadcasts until after 8.30pm. Accompanying the release of the joint policy, the RACP undertook a review of nine sports across six categories and found all were influenced by alcohol sponsorships and advertisements, either at the stadium or during television coverage.

The findings of the RACP review echo the findings of numerous reports and reviews of Australia’s alcohol advertising regulations, which have highlighted major loopholes and failure of existing regulations to protect children and young people from regular exposure to alcohol advertising, particularly in relation to televised sports broadcasts. Despite these consistent findings, alcohol advertising regulations were further watered down last year by the Federal government’s media watchdog, the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA)

According to MJA Insight, ACMA’s moves have prompted renewed calls for government intervention and strengthened regulations, including calls to abolish ACMA and replace the existing industry-led regulatory system with a truly independent and robust regulator.

For more information, go to the MJA Insight article at: https://www.mja.com.au/insight/2016/8/alcohol-advertising-rules-disgrace

“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

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