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ABA encourages government to recognise cultural shift in alcohol consumption

May 6, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

In its submission to the draft National Preventive Health Strategy, Alcohol Beverages Australia suggest that drinking in moderation is the new norm for Australians in a relationship that has matured and reflects a significant cultural shift.

CEO Andrew Wilsmore said, “The job isn’t completed just yet, but the key drivers of these improvements must feature in any forward-looking preventative health strategy…

 “Many people don’t realise that per capita consumption of alcohol is at its lowest in level in 50 years due to Australians adjusting the way they drink – choosing to drink less, but often choosing to drink better.”

The ABA suggest that this shift in drinking behaviours should be recognised in the National Preventative Health Strategy due to be released by the federal government later this year.

In short, the National Preventative Health Strategy is a ten year plan that looks to prevention – via early intervention, better education, targeting risk factors – as a means to improve the health of all Australians. The Strategy is developed in consultation with stakeholders and the community whose varied perspectives, experience and knowledge are all considered in finalising the document due.

The ABA cites that Australians are drinking at low risk levels citing that over a fourteen year period:

  • There has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of underage Australians abstaining from alcohol and 
  • An 18 per cent decrease in the number of Australians drinking at lifetime risky levels.

The ABA also says that the government’s own figures from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey show that since 2013 there has been a 32 per cent decrease in alcohol related physical violence and a 20 per cent reduction in verbal abuse. 

The ABA also supports the Strategy’s proposed target of a 10 per cent reduction in harmful consumption by Australians by 2028 and suggests that this timeline stands fast, rather than being brought forward to 2025 as suggested in the draft version.

In its submission, the ABA said: “We are concerned that this directly changes the target set in the National Alcohol Strategy, where [state] governments agreed to a 10% reduction between 2019 and 2028. We are barely two years in the national strategy, and the proposal to recalibrate the target undermines the previous government-agreed position.”

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