Poll shows drinking at home rose pre-COVID-19


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In January 2020, over 2,000 Australians took part in The Poll by YouGov Galaxy, for the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). Each year the results of the poll shed light on Australia's drinking habits and attitudes towards alcohol.

In this year's poll the findings show that even before COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were introduced, Australians were drinking more at home than in previous years. Of those polled 73% said they drink most frequently in the home, compared to 15% in pubs, bars or clubs. In addition, 67% said their heaviest drinking occasion was in the home.

According to FARE CEO Caterina Giorgi, drinking in the home is a long-standing trend that has since intensified among all ages in both regional and metropolitan communities. "Despite what many of us assume, people who drink alcohol are more likely to do so at home – and this is true even before the lockdown measures."

"Alcohol increases the severity and frequency of family violence and contributes to a range of cancers and alcohol dependence" – FARE CEO Caterina Giorgi

The self-reported rates of harmful drinking are cause for concern, particularly considering the increase in access to alcohol via home delivery services. According to FARE, online alcohol and home delivery retailers are not routinely verifying age at point of sale and delivery, and in some cases leaving alcohol unattended. FARE is calling for more regulation on online and delivery sales, like those that 'bricks and mortar' retailers adhere to, in order to address the risks of alcohol supply to children and reduce the potential for harm for all communities.

"Retailers are pushing alcohol into homes at all hours, with delivery as soon as 30-minutes. These practices are contributing to riskier alcohol use, and common-sense measures such as introducing a two-hour delay between online orders and delivery, are needed to prevent harm," Ms Giorgi said.

This year's poll results showed that of the people receiving alcohol home delivery, only 38% reported their ID was checked at point of delivery and 25% report that alcohol was left unattended at their door. The majority (87%) of people in NSW believe proof of age should be verified in order to purchase alcohol online.

The NSW Parliament will soon consider a new Liquor Amendment (24 Hour Economy) Bill to address regulations around same day alcohol delivery sales. FARE say the findings from the poll are relevant to the Liquor Amendment (24 Hour Economy) Bill and hope effective regulation of alcohol home delivery will be addressed through the Amendment Bill.

Read the full Annual Alcohol Poll 2020: Behaviours and Attitudes report for further results.

Update: November 2020

Announced on 13 November, NSW Parliament have approved amendments to the Liquor Act 2007 and regulation for same day liquor deliveries. As part of the key changes in the Liquor Amendment (24-hour Economy) Bill 2020, same day alcohol delivery regulations have been defined to protect consumers and communities. Among the changes retailers now need to ensure they do not:

  • "make a same day delivery to a person unless the person produces evidence of the person's identity and age in accordance with the regulations"
  • "supply liquor to an intoxicated person"
  • "supply liquor in an alcohol-free zone, an alcohol prohibited area or a restricted alcohol area"
  • "make a same day delivery after 11 pm on a Sunday or after midnight on any other day of the week"
  • "allow an employee or agent to make, a same day delivery unless the provider, or employee or agent, has had reasonable training…to ensure the same day delivery is responsibly supplied" (according to regulations)

The amendments are welcomed by advocates like FARE, whose CEO Caterina Giorgi said, "This is a common-sense measure that will help to keep children and young people safe." While she acknowledged the importance of these amendments, she also noted the need for more to be done regarding the ability for retailers to leave deliveries unattended and make rapid deliveries up until midnight Monday to Saturday. However, the NSW Parliament has committed to undertaking a two-year review and working with communities to consider these and any other issues.

For free and confidential advice 24/7 call Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide counselling, information, referrals, and support. Or start a Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5:00pm. ADIS can also provide up-to-date information about service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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