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Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
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Government alcohol policy a ‘fizzer’:

Governments are not doing well enough when it comes to alcohol policy & measures to help reduce binge and other harmful drinking.
By Motherpedia
Date: January 10 2015
Editor Rating:
teenagers-drinking

For the second year running the Federal Government has received the annual Fizzers award from 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. In 2013, the alliance introduced the National Alcohol Policy Scorecard to assess the policy response of Australian jurisdictions.

The Federal Government’s performance was very poor, scoring the lowest result overall (9%) on the national scorecard, a drop of 20% 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 states again did not score well this year for their alcohol policies, with all scoring below a pass grade (less than 50%). The Federal Government was by far the lowest performing in the country and in recognition of this has received the 2014 Fizzers award,” said Professor Daube.

“It’s disappointing that the Federal 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."

Professor Daube said the most critical shortcomings include the lack of a national alcohol strategy, and inaction in the areas of alcohol taxation, regulation of alcohol marketing, and labelling of alcohol products. 

By way of 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.

NSW received the ‘most improved’ award, moving upwards by 10% from 2013 (to 41%) 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.

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education Chief Executive, Michael Thorn commended the NSW Government for its 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. Their improved 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,” Mr Thorn said.

Todd Harper, Co-Chair of the NAAA and CEO of Cancer Council Victoria praised those governments that were taking alcohol policy seriously but said a lot more work needed to be done in all states.

“The results again highlighted that some states are continuing to do well when it comes to drink driving countermeasures, whole-of-government strategic planning for the prevention and reduction of alcohol-related harm and data management and research. Yet other states have made little or no progress,” Mr Harper said.

“Several states lack a strategy or action plan on alcohol, public health oriented alcohol pricing and taxation policies are lacking in all jurisdictions, and most scored poorly in terms of their restrictions on alcohol marketing and having transparent and independent policies.”

The NAAA has called for action in three priority areas:

  1. Alcohol pricing and taxation
  2. Alcohol marketing and promotion, and
  3. Alcohol availability – supported by strong education and information programs.

“We are urging all governments to work hard at strengthening alcohol policy, given the scientific evidence that this can lead to significant improvements in public health and safety.

"In particular, we strongly encourage the Federal Government to take action to improve alcohol policy at the national level, so that others can follow suit."

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