alcohol causes more harm to society than illegal drugs and is the leading
contributor to the burden of illness and deaths in Australia.
According to a 2016
report by NSW Health, a quarter of all adults within the state
drink at levels placing their long-term health at risk and just under one
quarter of all adults drink more than four standard drinks on a single occasion
– positioning them at a high immediate risk of harm.
As a result of this, NSW communities
are experiencing a large number of associated harms such as injury, liver
disease, cancer and mental health problems. And it's not just those who are
consuming alcohol that are at risk. Local members of the community are often at
the forefront of the damage caused by alcohol consumption.
Alcohol-Related Harm forum
The prevention of alcohol-related
harm and the effects of this on NSW communities was the focus of the
'Preventing Alcohol-Related Harm: What's Changed' forum in Miller, Liverpool on
March 23. Key speakers at the event such as Professor Ian Webster, Dr John
Crozier and Dr Criss Moore discussed the importance of community in liquor
licensing decisions and the reduction and prevention of alcohol-related harm.
Uncle Malcolm McColl, Gandangara
Local Aboriginal Land Council Board Member, and the local MP for Liverpool Paul
Lynch opened the forum.
A panel discussion with; NSW Health
AOD Prevention and Harm Minimisation Director Nicola Lewis; Drug and Alcohol
Multicultural Education Centre (DAMEC) counsellor Sinatt Tang; Gandangara Local
Aboriginal Land Council Health Services manager Kevin Watene; Miller community
member Judy Arkley; Paul McEvoy from Liverpool Police; and Pete Whitecross from
the Alcohol & Drug Foundation (ADF) talked about what has changed in
relation to preventing alcohol-related harm over the past couple of years and
what can be done moving forward.
A topic that was discussed at the
forum was liquor licensing, and the small percentage of applications that are
rejected. Currently in NSW there is a period of 30 days to respond to the
submission of a liquor licence application. After this period the decision can
NSW Government believes local
community engagement should be central to decisions about liquor licences
within the state. Depending on the type of liquor licence, this can be a simple
matter of talking to residents and local authorities, or a more involved
process of producing a community impact statement (CIS).
"Everyone has a role to
play" explained NSW Health AOD Prevention and Harm Minimisation Director
"Community-based solutions are
critical to the prevention of alcohol-related harm," local MP Paul Lynch
told the forum. Dr Criss Moore also talked about the way communities can
collaborate and work together to ensure they are involved in liquor licensing
Dr Moore was central in the Casula
community opposition to an application for a late trading pokie pub because of
its likely negative social impact on the area. She believes that when a
community comes together with a common goal and a single voice the strength of
this conviction can make a difference.
According to a 2016 study by the
Sax Institute for NSW Ministry of Health, reducing hours during which
on-premise alcohol outlets can sell late at night can substantially reduce
rates of alcohol-related violence. There are also many studies that have found
that changes in alcohol outlet density are associated with changes in the rate
of health problems with a community.
Damian Dabrowski, NSW/ACT Program
Implementation Coordinator at the Alcohol & Drug
Foundation (ADF) also spoke at the event about resources for the community to
tackle the availability of alcohol.
Specifically, Damian mentioned the
ADF toolkit – a
resource for members of the public which aims to remove barriers that prevent
the community from being actively involved in licensing decisions,
communicating the true cost of alcohol in Australia, and why it's important to
play a part in the decision-making process.
If you want to ensure your voice is
heard when it comes to liquor licensing - get involved. Join your local
Community Drug Action Team (CDAT) – made up of volunteers, CDATs across NSW
have been involved in a number of campaigns and activities to curb
alcohol-fuelled violence and drug-use.
Support and inform your community and
their decisions by accessing the latest statistics on NSW HealthStats. The ADF
toolkit provides advice on how to make a difference and the Your
Room website can act as resource to inform communities on alcohol and
Want to learn more about the effects
of alcohol? Check out our selection of publications.
*Image: Professor Ian Webster and ADF
Program Implementation Coordinator Damian Dabrowski at the
Preventing Alcohol-Related Harm forum in Miller. Credit: Melissa Bernstein,