There’s been a lot of research and news on alcohol in Australia recently – some were promising, while others were shocking.
We’ve compiled some of the latest news on alcohol to help keep you updated:
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australians are “having a sensible and mature relationship with alcohol”.
The ABS data shows that Australians are drinking less alcohol overall than at any time over the previous 50 years. The data also shows that Australians are drinking less in terms of quantity, but of a better perceived quality.
Highlighted in the report was also a change in habits of what Australians are actually drinking.
Fifty years ago, beer accounted for three quarters of all alcohol consumed, but now makes up only 41%.
On the other hand, wine consumption has increased from 12% to 38%.
In the last 50 years, spirits including pre-mixed drinks grew from 13% to 19%. Cider is a small but growing proportion of all alcohol consumed, at just 2%.
The Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) said that this change for quality over quantity highlights that Australians are responsibly enjoying alcohol on social occasions.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) runs an annual alcohol policy, and this year, their data shows some unhealthy drinking habits among young Australians.
According to the national survey conducted on 1830 Australians, 57% of young people had drank with the intention of getting drunk compared with 50% in 2014.
Of those young people aged 18 to 34 years who drank, 25% had drunk enough to vomit and 9% had passed out.
The survey also reported that only 37% of Gen Y-ers had been asked for their proof of age in the past year when they were out at a pub, club or bar. Only 42% has been asked for their ID’s at a bottle shop.
Of all drinkers, 50% said they had preloaded (consumed cheaper alcohol at home or at a friend’s place) before heading out.
For FARE’s policy officer, Caterina Giorgi, these results show that the current policy of promoting “responsible service” was a “complete failure”.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the heaviest drinkers in developed countries are poorer, less educated men and wealthier, better educated women.
Women with higher education and higher socio-economic status were more likely to drink more due to them having better paid jobs with higher responsibilities and greater stress. It might be that drinking has become socially acceptable among highly educated women.
Curtin University’s Public Health Advocacy Institute director Mike Daube said the report demonstrated that price policy, regulating access, curbing alcohol promotion and good education programs all worked to reduce alcohol problems.
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) released its review of the state’s liquor licensing restrictions (or lockout laws) – a suite of reforms introduced in February 2014 to combat an epidemic of alcohol-fuelled violence and harm.
Some of the major changes initiated were a 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks for pubs and clubs in Sydney’s entertainment district.
Across NSW, the lockout laws also included stopping bottle shop sales after 10pm and bans on troublemakers entering licensed premises in the so-called “party precinct”.
Based on BOSCAR’s report, the lockout laws resulted in an immediate and substantial reduction in assault in Kings Cross (down 32%) and a less immediate but substantial and perhaps ongoing reduction in assault in the Sydney CBD (down 40%).
There was also a significant 9% reduction in assault across the state.
Additionally, most areas adjacent to the Kings Cross or Sydney CBD entertainment precincts or within easy reach of these precincts showed no increase in assault. The number of assaults around The Star casino increased but the change was not statistically significant.
An RMIT study analysed Facebook, Twitter and YouTube content around the Australian Football League, National Rugby League and Australian cricket 2013-14 seasons to see how alcohol brands were using sports-linked messages to interact with consumers.
They found that alcohol brands were making an effort to “immerse themselves as a natural or routinised part of the [alcohol] consumption experience” by linking sporting success with drinking.
Alcohol brands tie in their social media posts with major sporting fixtures and use a range of mediums, such as smartphone apps, trivia and tipping competitions, celebrity endorsements and promotional merchandise to engage with consumers and gain access to their extended social networks.
Social media is now a key player in selling alcohol and the RMIT study says the industry times its posts to tie in with major sporting fixtures.
While the link between sport and alcohol has been well-established, the use of social media is only making it stronger.
We could be heading towards round-the-clock alcohol advertising on television, unless the government intervenes.
Free TV Australia, the body representing free-to-air broadcasters, wants to amend current restrictions to allow alcohol advertisements to be aired an hour earlier, from 7.30pm.
Free TV Australia also wants to be able to show alcohol ads during pre-recorded or delayed sports broadcasts, in addition to anytime during live sports events.
Michael Thorn, the chief executive of Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) disagrees with this move and is urging Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to rule out any change to the existing restrictions.
FARE’s 2015 Alcohol Poll on 1830 people found 63% of Australians support a total ban on alcohol ads on TV before 8.30pm. There was also strong support (81 per cent) for 3am or earlier mandatory pub closing times, in line with central Sydney’s recently imposed 1.30am lock-out and 3am last drink laws.
Mr Thorn said this showed Australians wanted alcohol restrictions to be tightened rather than relaxed.
Although alcohol consumption is at a “fifty-year low”, the latest news indicate that Australian youth still practice unhealthy drinking practices, such as pre-loading before heading out, and drinking with the intention of getting drunk.
It only goes to show that while the trends may seem promising, it does not equal a reduction in alcohol-related harm.
As Nadine Ezard, the clinical director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney said, there was evidence to suggest that alcohol-related harm is on the increase, and alcohol was second only to tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death and hospitalisation. [Source: Sydney Morning Herald]
“430 Australians are hospitalised due to alcohol every day. It causes the death of 5500 Australians each year. 1-in-5 Australians still consume alcohol at levels that put them at risk of lifetime harm,” Dr Ezard said.
“It’s time for Australia to have a serious national conversation about alcohol and how we can better manage its negative impact.”