Alcohol-related harm and violence is a predominant injury within our community. At the Injury Summit 2017, the main aim of all those working within prevention was to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. It was noted very early on, that addressing alcohol in isolation will not work. The culture of alcohol in our society is something that needs to be addressed from all levels and organisations.
This is evident when we look at the link between alcohol and sport. This ‘culture of drinking’ and the alcohol-illiteracy identifies alcohol as a contributor to family violence and harm. This drinking culture occurs behind closed doors and often doesn’t generate as much media attention as the alcohol-related harm which occurs in public. Liquor shops make up 60% of all alcohol sales, highlighting the large amount of drinking that occurs in a private setting.
Statistics and data are essential for understanding the significance of this issue and are often hard to obtain. Despite the effectiveness of the secondary supply laws recently put in place, there are still numerous priority areas, such as country and regional alcohol-related harm and violence.
Alcohol advertising was an issue which was discussed in the Summit. The use of self-regulation by the Alcohol Beverage Advertising Code is a false idea and is not helpful in attempting to change the alcohol-culture in our society.
Future harm prevention work should focus on providing support for those who need it and working with health professionals to combat the contributing factors before it leads to harm. An example of this is involving GPs in having the conversation about alcohol when people go in for other health reasons. Inter-agency collaboration is very important in getting the harm minimisation and prevention message across when it comes to alcohol and violence, as well as the need for a strong, clear advocacy message and voice.
Moderator: Julia Stafford, McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth
Melanie Chatfield, Alcohol & Drug Advisor, WA Primary Health Alliance
Professor Tanya Chikritzhs, Program Leader, Alcohol Policy Research Program, National Drug Research Institute
Angela Hartwig, Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Council for Domestic Violence Services (WA)
Detective Superintendent James Migro, Divisional Officer, WA Police