Australia Talks About Alcohol
ABC’s national survey “Australia Talks” reveals Australians believe alcohol is one of the biggest issues the country faces as a nation.
The survey polled more than 54,000 people across Australia, finding that alcohol (and other drugs) is one of the top three issues respondents identified. 90% of the people believe alcohol and other drug issues are some of the major problems in the country.
The results are similar to the annual alcohol poll done by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). According to FARE’s poll,
- 66% respondents believed Australia has an alcohol problem,
- 53% reported alcohol problems will worsen,
- 75% stated more action is necessary to reduce alcohol harm.
We should recognise that alcohol is not just a problem of young people… that older people are increasingly the victims of alcohol harm,” said Michael Thorn, Chief Executive of FARE, as per drink tank.
According to drink tank the idea that more needs to be done about alcohol harm has persisted over the years. However, a range of factors, including media reporting and government policy decisions, which have changed the emphasis over time, influence Australians’ attitudes towards alcohol.
One example cited is that the community’s perception of the drug that costs the most harm. While it is alcohol which causes most harm, Australians wrongly believe illegal drugs cause the biggest burden. This is due to government focus on drugs like ice. Specially in 2015, the government formed a Task Force to battle what they called the ‘ice epidemic’ leading to perceptual change among Australians in the 2016 poll.
Alcohol burden in Australia
WHO data shows what Australian’s believe is indeed true: The total per capita consumption of alcohol of 10.8 litres is above the average of the WHO Western Pacific Region. Binge alcohol use among youth is also high with over half (56.2%) the youth between 15 to 19 years who use alcohol binge on the substance.
It is evident that Australia needs to strengthen alcohol policy to better prevent and reduce alcohol harm. Areas such as increasing the minimum age, implementing sales restrictions, banning alcohol promotions, advertising and sponsorship and regulating alcohol labelling need significant improvements.
Such measures needs protection against alcohol industry interference as well. Recently it was found through a FARE analysis that Australia’s draft National Alcohol Strategy (NAS) was compromised to include pro Big Alcohol measures after consultation with the industry.