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Thirsty for change: Time to say 'when' on alcohol harm in Victoria

Posted by Cairin, April 2014

The latest FARE alcohol poll, released at the end of March, highlighted that Australians are increasingly concerned about alcohol related harm and there is a thirst for government action.

A growing number of Australians (78%) believe Australia has a problem with excess drinking or alcohol abuse and, not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority (79%) believe more needs to be done.

As with past survey results, there was a strong vote of no confidence, with 64% of Australians believing that Governments are not doing enough to reduce harms, an increase of 8% from the previous year.

The survey also revealed that awareness of the link between alcohol and serious health conditions, such as stroke and breast cancer, is seriously low at just 47% and 17% respectively.

The reality is that alcohol remains a major cause of preventable death and illness across Australia and Victoria. In fact, it is estimated that around 5000 cases of cancer in Australia (or 5% of all cancers) are attributable to long-term chronic use of alcohol each year - and in Victoria, around 1000 cases of cancer are estimated to be caused by long-term chronic alcohol use each year.

That's why Cancer Council Victoria is part of the Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC), a collaboration of health and allied agencies who share a concern about the level of alcohol misuse and the associated health and social consequences for the community.

The APC works hard to develop and promote evidence-based policy responses that are known to be effective in preventing and reducing alcohol related problems.

Recently, the APC called on all Victorian political parties to make reducing alcohol related harm a 2014 election priority. The coalition's election policy platform, entitled ‘Five Steps to a Safer, Healthier Victoria,' outlines a number of evidence-based policy reforms that need to be implemented in Victoria in order to reduce alcohol related harms.

International and Australian evidence shows that strategies which reduce the availability of liquor, including by reducing trading hours and restricting the availability of packaged liquor can significantly reduce the levels of harm caused by alcohol.

Another aspect of the election policy platform is aimed at protecting children and young people from the pro-drinking messages that bombard the community.

Spokesperson for the Alcohol Policy Coalition, Todd Harper, CEO of Cancer Council Victoria, said "An important part of changing our harmful drinking culture is implementing proven and effective alcohol policy reforms, including reducing exposure of young people to alcohol advertising, because of the link between advertising and harmful drinking in young people. This is another key strategy in our five-step action plan to reduce alcohol-related harm in Victoria."

To view the full five-step action plan, visit www.alcoholpolicycoalition.org.au

5 Steps to a Safer Healthier Victoria

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