Immediate action needed to end the rise in alcohol fuelled family violence

Thursday 19 January, 2017

The Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) is urging the Victorian Government to take immediate action to reduce family violence and other alcohol related harm in the state, in its submission to the Liquor Act review.

The call comes as the government undertakes its first substantial review of Victoria’s liquor licensing legislation in almost 20 years and follows recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The alliance of 13 health and community bodies says the government needs to take action to reduce the widespread availability and promotion of alcohol to help prevent family violence.

Alcohol and Drug Foundation chief executive John Rogerson said:

“Alcohol increases the frequency and severity of family violence, and contributes to more than half of the incidents attended by police. This amounts to almost 65,000 incidents of family violence each year.i

“These incidents are preventable, and they are increasing.ii

Mr Rogerson said strong evidence links availability of alcohol, through the number and concentration of packaged liquor outlets, to increases in family violence, child maltreatment and health problems.iii

The APC fears Victoria is fast becoming Australia’s liquor licensing capital, with a booming number of large ‘big box’ stores offering cheap alcohol at discount prices.

“The proliferation of liquor licences and resulting increase in alcohol related harm demonstrates that the current system is failing to protect Victorian children, families and communities and is weighted heavily in favour of the alcohol industry,” Mr Rogerson said.

The APC is calling on the government to:

  • Overhaul the application process for new liquor outlets to allow greater consideration of family violence and health harms.
  • Regulate irresponsible marketing and promotion by liquor outlets (eg. bottle shop alcohol giveaways with purchase).
  • Cease outdoor alcohol advertising on public transport and near schools to protect children and young people.

In addition to being a major contributor to family violence, alcohol has also been linked to rising hospital admissions, treatment episodes and ambulance attendances. Alcohol related ambulance attendances in metropolitan Melbourne have more than doubled recent years, rising from 5,131 incidents in 2006/07iv to 12,482 incidents in 2013/14.v

Alcohol is linked with three deaths and more than 100 hospitalisations every day in Victoria.vi

In the long term it is a major risk factor for serious health problems, including liver cirrhosis, stroke, coronary heart disease, and high blood pressure, as well as being responsible for 3,200 cases of cancer in Australia each year.vii

The APC submission to the government includes 43 recommendations to reform the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 that would bring immediate and substantial reductions in alcohol related harm.

To view the APC submission or for further information visit http://www.alcoholpolicycoalition.org.au/our-work/liquor-act-review

i Sutherland, P, McDonald, C & Millsteed, M 2016, Family violence, alcohol consumption and the likelihood of criminal offences, Crime Statistics Agency (Vic)
ii Sutherland, P, McDonald, C & Millsteed, M 2016, Family violence, alcohol consumption and the likelihood of criminal offences, Crime Statistics Agency (Vic)
iiiLivingston, M, Wilkinson, C & Room, R 2016, Community impact of liquor licences, Sax Institute for the Ministry of Health (NSW), http://www.saxinstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Community-impact-of-liquor-licences-1.pdf
iv Turning Point. (2016). AODstats. Eastern Health. Retrieved from: http://aodstats.org.au/
v Trends in alcohol and drug related ambulance attendances in Victoria 2013/14, Turning Point and Ambulance Victoria, available from www.turningpoint.org.au
vi Gao, C, Ogeil, R, & Lloyd, B 2014, Alcohol’s burden of disease in Australia, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education and VicHealth in collaboration with Turning Point.
vii Pandeya, N, Wilson, LF, Webb, PM, Neale, RE, Bain, CJ & Whiteman, DC 2015, ‘Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to the consumption of alcohol’. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, vol. 39, no. 5, pp. 408-413.