More funding for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

22 November 2018: The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement on Wednesday of $7.2million in new funding for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

The announcement coincides with the 2nd Australasian FASD Conference in Perth and follows the October announcement by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation that government-developed pregnancy warning labels will be mandatory on all packaged alcoholic beverages.

FASD is the leading cause of preventable developmental disability in Australia. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to lifelong harm including miscarriage, still births, low birth weight and FASD.

“It’s good to see the Federal Government investing additional funding to FASD given its importance and preventability”, said NAAA Co-chair Jane Martin welcoming the announcement.

Anne Russell NAAA Executive Committee member and founder of the Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association said “sixty percent of babies born in Australia are at risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  This statistic isn’t meant to cause consternation and anxiety, it’s a reality and it’s upsetting to think that so many children are at risk for this terrible condition,”

“As a parent to two children with FASD additional funding for education, diagnostic and support services and FASD resources will help prevent the occurrence of FASD and enhance the lives of children and their families with FASD.”

 

For further information/comment:

Jane Martin: 0418 358 768

Anne Russell: 0412 550 540

FASD Announcement Nov2018

Please click here for the PDF of the media release

 

Tasmania takes out Fizzer Award on national day of alcohol harm

26 January 2018

Tasmania has today received the 2017 annual Fizzer Award as the poorest performing jurisdiction, in a national alcohol policy scorecard released on Australia’s worst day for alcohol harm.

Scoring only 23 per cent when it comes to effective alcohol policy – closely followed by New South Wales at 24 per cent – the result highlights some clear opportunities for Tasmania and New South Wales to boost their efforts to address significant levels of alcohol harm in their communities.

Queensland has continued its performance as the state doing most to protect people from alcohol harm while the Northern Territory has shown the most improvement since last year.

The scorecard – produced by the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA), a coalition of more than 40 health and community organisations – assesses the policies put in place by Australian governments to reduce harms caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

NAAA co-Chair Dr John Crozier said the absence of a state plan to reduce harms from alcohol and the Tasmanian Government’s close relationship with the state’s peak industry body for hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs, were the reason for the jurisdiction’s low score.

“The Premier should know that attending an election event hosted by the Tasmanian Hospitality Association where free beer is being provided sends the wrong message to voters,” Dr Crozier said.

“New South Wales had the biggest slip in ranking after watering down its highly effective reduced trading hours in the Sydney CBD, threats to the world-leading Newcastle conditions and reducing the capacity of communities to object to licensing decisions.

“Alcohol consumption kills 5,500 Australians, hospitalises a further 157,000 each year and is a factor in a third of Australia’s fatal road crashes. We cannot afford to be complacent with policies to prevent dangerous drinking. Stronger evidence-based alcohol policy reforms must be implemented to promote public health and community safety.

“As a surgeon I see the damage first hand. Many of my colleagues will be treating a large number of drunk and injured people in emergency departments today. It’s normally around one in eight patients but today it will likely be more.”

NAAA co-Chair Ms Jane Martin said that Queensland’s state-wide introduction of 2am and 3am last drinks was a major step forward in the state’s efforts to limit dangerous drinking and injury caused by alcohol.

“We congratulate the Northern Territory Government for reintroducing the Banned Drinker Register and its commitment to adopt the recommendations of the Riley Review into alcohol, but more needs to be done to strengthen national and state alcohol policy,” Ms Martin said.

“The evidence about which policies keep people safe is clear. We aren’t waiting for medical breakthroughs to substantially reduce the health burden from alcohol. We’re just waiting for the political action.”

Indeed, all jurisdictions can do a lot better on alcohol policy, but where should they start? For some, the challenge is firstly to acknowledge that they have an alcohol problem in their backyard; and stop ignoring the evidence. It is time to put health and community safety before alcohol industry interests and begin introducing measures that have proven to be effective in reducing alcohol harm.

A copy of the scorecard is available on the NAAA website.

TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH DR JOHN CROZIER OR MS JANE MARTIN PLEASE CONTACT:

Dr Devin Bowles – 0435 749 306

Please click here for the PDF of the media release which includes additional graphs ranking the states and territories.

 

About the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol:

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) is a national coalition representing more than 40 organisations from across Australia. NAAA’s members cover a diverse range of interests, including public health, law enforcement, local government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, child and adolescent health, and family and community services.

NAAA’s National Alcohol Policy Scorecard aims to: raise awareness of progress in alcohol policy development within Australian states and territories; recognise good practice in alcohol policy; and motivate governments to continue to strengthen and improve alcohol policy.

www.actiononalcohol.org.au                 Twitter: @ACTIONonALCOHOL

 

Northern Territory paves the way for national alcohol reforms

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) together with the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) commends the Northern Territory Government for undertaking its recently completed Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review aimed at preventing and minimising alcohol related harm in its communities.

The wide public consultation on the NT’s current alcohol policies and legislation initiated by the Review has enabled the gathering of important local data and recommendations. The NT Government has used the information to assess its current alcohol laws and identify key areas for reform.

David Templeman, President of the PHAA praised the Review, saying “The Review shows real courage in making recommendations based on the scientific evidence rather than in favour of the usual vested interests. The recommendation for a floor price on dangerously ‘cheap’ alcohol is absolutely in line with the scientific evidence on what works to reduce harm, and would be a first for Australia. A similar policy is currently being considered in WA.”

“The Northern Territory is now in a stronger position to analyse exactly where it can perform better in its regulation of alcohol. The Review is also significant in that better alcohol policy in the NT will have far-reaching effects beyond reducing the incidence of alcohol-related disease and death.”

Mr Templeman continued, “Through limiting alcohol misuse in these communities we will also see lowered health costs and increased productivity. We would also see lower incarceration rates, with reduced human and economic costs associated with imprisoning people.”

“Addressing the rivers of alcohol flowing into the Northern Territory is a step toward closing the gap in Indigenous health. For too long, Indigenous health has been disproportionately affected by ineffective alcohol policy,” Mr Templeman said.

“A whole-of-government approach to alcohol abuse is also likely to benefit the Territory in relation to the ongoing issue of child protection, since alcohol is closely linked to child welfare issues and high rates of domestic violence,” Mr Templeman said.

Julia Stafford, Executive Committee Member for the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol also supported the recommendations of the Review, saying “We applaud the Northern Territory for taking clear action to address alcohol harms. Given that the Territory’s population is so disproportionately affected by this issue compared to other jurisdictions, it’s appropriate that they are showing national leadership and are seriously looking at how to create better policy solutions.”

“We are highly supportive of the reforms suggested by the Review which will assist with developing an integrated Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy. While some aspects to the reforms may not be welcomed by vested interests and a minority of the community, it’s important the Government persists and keeps the longer-term outcomes of improved health and wellbeing in mind,” Ms Stafford said.

For further information/comment:

David Templeman, President, Public Health Association of Australia 0414 265 122 davidtempleman1@live.com

Julia Stafford, Executive Committee Member for the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol 0413 531 398 j.stafford@curtin.edu.au

 

Please click here for the PDF of the media release.

New alcohol industry ad rules dismissed as window dressing

New alcohol industry ad rules dismissed as window dressing

20 July 2017

New advertising placement rules developed by the alcohol industry are unlikely to reduce young people’s exposure to alcohol promotion in any meaningful way, and highlight yet again the need for independent regulation of all forms of alcohol marketing to protect young people.

“There is a clear need for comprehensive controls on the content, placement and volume of alcohol marketing, but alcohol advertisers should not be the ones designing those controls”, said Julia Stafford, Executive Officer of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth which runs the Alcohol Advertising Review Board.

“There are significant conflicts of interest at play – the Directors of the ABAC Scheme and the majority of its Management Committee represent the major brewers, distillers and winemakers in Australia. It’s no wonder the new ‘placement rules’ appear to be designed to look like the industry is addressing alcohol ad placement, without actually doing anything.

“We are not aware of any information about how these ‘placement rules’ can be expected to protect young people. We do not know how the provisions were developed, who was consulted, or if any data modelling was conducted to provide an evidence base for the rules”.

“The new placement provisions are incredibly generous to alcohol advertisers. For example, alcohol ads are allowed on television where at least 75% of the audience are adults. This approach hasn’t worked in other countries and it won’t work in Australia. Those aged under 18 years account for less than 25% of the Australian population and even a seemingly modest proportion of the TV audience can represent hundreds of thousands of young viewers.”

Michael Moore, co-chair of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) said, “This is another sign that the alcohol industry is fearful of future independent regulation of alcohol marketing.

“The new ‘rules’ fail to address the significant gaps and weaknesses in the voluntary system – the ABAC Scheme still does not apply to alcohol sponsorship, there are few restrictions for outdoor media and the loophole allowing alcohol ads in weekend sport during children’s TV viewing times remains.

“These weak provisions should not deter the Australian Government from taking action to introduce effective alcohol marketing regulation that prioritises the health of young people”.

Please see New alcohol industry ad rules dismissed as window dressing_media release_200717 for the PDF of the media release.

More support needed to cut back on alcohol

14 September 2016

Over 1 in 4 Australian adults consumed alcohol at levels which put them at risk of short-term harm in 2013, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) flagship report, Australia’s health 2016.

“A real concern is 39% of young people drank alcohol at levels that put them at risk of harm,” said Dr John Crozier, Co-Chair of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol.

“According to the report, alcohol contributed to over 5% of the total burden of disease and injury in Australia in 2011. Among motor vehicle occupants, alcohol was responsible for 28% of the burden due to traffic accidents,” said Dr Crozier.

“Alcohol was responsible for almost a quarter of the health burden due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries, and of chronic liver disease,” Dr Crozier continued.

“Australians have a growing understanding of the health risks from alcohol. The proportion of adults who consumed alcohol at risky levels decreased between 2010 and 2013. Unfortunately, many people find cutting back difficult,” said Dr Crozier.

Australia’s health 2016 shows alcohol was the leading drug for which people sought treatment from alcohol and other drug treatment services. It was the drug of principle concern for almost 2 in 5 people seeking treatment.

“For people wanting to cut back on their drinking, it can feel like an uphill battle they face alone. Governments have the opportunity to help those people who want to reduce their alcohol consumption and minimise their risk of developing chronic diseases,” said Dr Crozier.

“Some ways the Government could do this are by limiting alcohol advertising, especially to children and on public transport. In a time of budget austerity, taxing alcohol in line with the harm it does to our community would be a sensible step forward. This should include replacing the wine equalisation tax with a volumetric tax on alcohol,” said Dr Crozier.

“It’s not about creating a ‘Nanny State’, it’s about helping people make decisions that protect their own health and the health of those around them,” continued Dr Crozier.

“The Government needs to support communities that want to put sensible limits on trading hours of bars and pubs, including last drinks at 3am. It is about listening to the community and doing what’s best for the health of Australians,” concluded Dr Crozier.

TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH DR JOHN CROZIER PLEASE CONTACT:

Devin Bowles – 02 6171 1306 or 02 6247 1187 after hours

About the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol:

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) is a national coalition representing more than 90 organisations from across Australia. NAAA’s members cover a diverse range of interests, including public health, law enforcement, local government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, child and adolescent health, and family and community services.

www.actiononalcohol.org.au

Twitter: @ACTIONonALCOHOL

Time for all political parties to ban alcohol advertising to kids

29 June 2016: There is still time for all major parties to commit to closing the loophole that allows alcohol advertising to children during televised sporting events says Dr John Crozier, co-chair of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA).

Today the Greens launched a policy to end advertising alcohol on TV to children during sporting events. The policy would ban alcohol ads on commercial TV when children are watching, from 6am-9am and from 4pm-9pm when school is in, and between 6am and 9pm on weekends and school holidays.

“We know drinking is bad for people under 18 years. Drinking from a young age can harm the developing brain, and increase the risk of alcohol-related problems as a teenager and adult. Young people may also make poor choices while under the influence of alcohol, endangering themselves and those around them,” said Dr Crozier.

“The community expects the government to protect our children and young people from aggressive advertising by the big alcohol companies. 70% of Australians support banning alcohol ads on TV before 8:30pm. It is time for all of the major parties to join with ordinary Australians,” said Dr Crozier.

“Today, the Greens have shown leadership on this important issue. Commercial interests have been prioritised over expert advice and community concerns, and it is time for all political parties to step in and acknowledge the failure of self-regulation and the need for legislated controls,” Dr Crozier continued.

“Our children are exposed to far too much alcohol advertising. It is hard to watch sport on Australian TV without being hit with a flood of alcohol ads,” said Dr Crozier.

“There is clear evidence children and young people who are exposed to alcohol advertising start drinking earlier. Among those already drinking, alcohol advertising increases the amount they drink,” said Dr Crozier.

“Many parents are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They like sport’s messages about fitness and a healthy lifestyle for their kids, but they don’t like the association with alcohol. They don’t want their children to think that alcohol helps with sporting achievement or social success,” said Dr Crozier.

The NAAA election priorities are available at http://actiononalcohol.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/160531-NAAA-2016-Election-Policy-Statement-for-distribution.pdf.

ENDS

TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH DR CROZIER PLEASE CONTACT:

Sophie Brown – 0421 749 608

Saturation of Alcohol Advertising in State of Origin a Disgrace

Tomorrow’s first State of Origin match signals the beginning of young Australians being exposed to the mass alcohol advertising to come over the State of Origin games says co-chair of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) Committee Dr John Crozier.

“It is shameful that children continue to be exposed to harmful alcohol advertising as families tune their televisions to live sporting events like the State of Origin,” said Dr Crozier, also Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee.

“Allowing our sporting heroes to be walking billboards for alcohol products during prime time viewing encourages children to start drinking at a younger age and at more harmful levels when they reach adulthood.

“Alcohol advertising has never been as pervasive, as inventive, and as well-resourced as it is now. There is an urgent need for effective regulation that prioritises the health of young people, and supports public health efforts to change Australia’s harmful drinking culture.”

The Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice was reviewed earlier this year and continued to allow alcohol advertising before 8.30pm during live broadcasts of sporting events.

“The Australian Government has continuously failed to end the unhealthy link between alcohol sponsorship and sport and as a result children are exposed to an ever increasing rate of alcohol advertising,” said Dr Crozier.

A recent survey conducted by the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) shows 60% of Australians believe alcohol sponsorship should be banned from sport and 70% believe alcohol advertising should be banned on television before 8:30pm.

Protecting children from alcohol advertising and sponsorship is one action of NAAA’s 4-point plan to prevent alcohol harm. NAAA hopes this 4-point plan speaks to politicians in the upcoming Federal Election to take action in reducing alcohol harms.

“Commercial interests have been prioritised over expert advice and community concerns, and it is time for the next Government to step in and acknowledge the failure of self-regulation and the need for legislated controls.

“A whole-of-system review that considers the effect of alcohol advertising on young people across all mediums is required, and the NAAA is calling for an immediate end to the Code of Practice loophole which allows alcohol advertising during sporting events before 8.30pm.”

ENDS

To arrange an interview with Dr Crozier please contact: Amy Kimber – 0437 144 050

Please click here for the PDF of the media release

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.

ENDS

TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH DR JOHN CROZIER PLEASE CONTACT:

Amy Kimber – 0437 144 050

 

Twitter: @ACTIONonALCOHOL

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

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.

 

ENDS

 

TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH DR JOHN CROZIER PLEASE CONTACT:

Amy Kimber – 0437 144 050

 

TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL MOORE PLEASE CONTACT:

Sophie Brown – 0421 749 608

Twitter: @ACTIONonALCOHOL

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

 

 

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