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Advocacy: Reducing the alcohol and drug toll in Victoria

Posted by Cairin

This month, the Alcohol Policy Coalition (of which Cancer Council Victoria is a member) welcomed the release of the new alcohol and drug strategy by the Victorian Government entitled Reducing the alcohol and drug toll; Victoria's plan 2013–2017.

Alcohol remains one of the major causes of preventable death and illness in Australia and it is a growing issue in Victoria where last year our:

  • ambulances treated booze-affected Victorians on 7,000 occasions
  • hospitals handled 25,000 alcohol-caused admissions
  • police took 14,000 drunks into custody.

Reducing the alcohol and drug toll; Victoria's plan 2013–2017 is the first all-of-government strategy to tackle alcohol in two years. So, it's extremely significant. The plan's broad approach goes beyond just treating the symptoms of our harmful drinking culture and addresses some of the causes such as the availability of alcohol in the community. One way the plan addresses alcohol access is by providing support to local communities so they can have a voice in liquor licensing issues.

However, the plan falls short when it comes to establishing timeframes and state-level action to tackle other key contributors to the current culture of excessive drinking, such as the relentless advertising and promotion of booze to young people. Alcohol advertisements bombard our youth on television, at sporting events, in newspapers, magazines and billboards impacting young people's perceptions of alcohol and their drinking intentions. It is essential that restrictions on alcohol-related marketing and adverting to young people forms part of any plan that aims to curb Victoria's drinking culture.  

Overall, the Alcohol Policy Coalition finds that the government's plan for a long-term cultural change strategy is a positive step forward, but achieving it will require a substantial investment from government and bold action now. Time is of the essence if we are to halt the continuing spiral of preventable alcohol-caused injuries, diseases and deaths in Victoria.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition (the Coalition) is a collaboration of health agencies – Australian Drug Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, and Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre – with shared concern relating to the misuse of alcohol and its health/social impacts on the community. The Coalition advocates for evidence based policy to prevent and reduce the harms caused by alcohol to Australians.

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