NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Alcohol other Drugs: Peak public health bodies @_PHAA_ And @FAREAustralia respond to Health Minister @GregHuntMP launch of National Alcohol Strategy 2019-28 : Download Here

The federal government will spend $140m on drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programs but has ruled out measures such as hiking taxes on cask wine.

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the National Alcohol Strategy 2019-28 has been agreed with the states following protract­ed negotiations.

The strategy outlines agreed policy options in four priority areas: community safety, price and promotion, treatment and prevention.

Health lobby groups have pushed for reform in two major areas: the introduction of a minimum floor price for alcohol by state governments, and the introduction of a volumetric tax, based on the amount of alcohol in a beverage, by the commonwealth. ”

From The Australian Health Editor Natasha Robinson (See in full part 1 below )

Read over 200 Aboriginal health and Alcohol other drugs articles published by NACCHO over the past 7 years 

” Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (31% compared with 23% respectively).

However, among those who did drink, higher proportions drank at risky levels (20% exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines) and were more likely to experience alcohol-related injury than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (35% compared to 25% monthly, respectively).

For this reason, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience disproportionate levels of harm from alcohol, including general avoidable mortality rates that are 4.9 times higher than among non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to which alcohol is a contributing factor.

The poorer overall health, social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also significant factors which can influence drinking behaviours. ” 

Page 8 of National Strategy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Download the full strategy HERE

national-alcohol-strategy-2019-2028

 ” The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) is pleased the National Alcohol Strategy 2019-2028 is finally out but said it lacked ambition to prevent Australians suffering adverse health impacts of alcohol consumption.

“It is good news to have this strategy now finalised, albeit many years in the making and with too much influence from the alcohol industry,”

PHAA CEO Terry Slevin  : See part 2 below for full press release 

Australia has not had a national strategy since 2011 and we congratulate Health Minister Greg Hunt for spearheading this successful outcome. 

Given the high burden of harm from alcohol, including 144,000 hospitalisations each year, we trust that the NAS will support proportionate action from the Commonwealth, states and territories to protect Australians and their families,

 FARE has also welcomed the Minister’s announcement that the Government will commission a report to estimate the social costs of alcohol to the community.  

Australia faces a $36 billion a year alcohol burden, with approximately a third due to alcohol dependence, a third caused by injuries, and the final third due to chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases,

FARE Director of Policy and Research Trish Hepworth. See part 3 below for full press release 

 ” Alcohol places an enormous burden on our healthcare resources on our society and ultimately on us as a nation.

Alcohol is currently the sixth leading contributor to the burden of disease in Australia, as well as costing Australian taxpayers an estimated $14 billion annually in social costs.

The AMA has previously outlined the priorities we would like to see reflected in the Strategy, including action on awareness, taxation, marketing, and prevention and treatment services.

Implementing effective and practical measures that reduce harms associated with alcohol misuse will benefit all Australians.”

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone : See Part 4 Below for full Press Release 

Part 1 The Australian Continued 

The National Alcohol Strategy lists the introduction of a volumetric tax as one policy ­option, but Mr Hunt said the commonwealth was ruling out such taxation reform.

“The government considers Australia’s current alcohol tax settings are appropriate and has no plans to make any changes,” the minister’s office said.

Mr Hunt said there were “mixed views” among the states on the introduction of a minimum floor price for alcohol — the Northern Territory is the only jurisdiction to introduce this measure — but such policy remained an option for the states.

Mr Hunt said the national strategy had laid out a path towards Australia meeting a targeted 10 per cent reduction in harmful alcohol consumption.

“There’s a balance been struck, what this represents is an attempt to lay out a pathway to reducing alcohol abuse and reducing self-harm and violence that comes with it,” Mr Hunt said.

“The deal-maker here was the commonwealth’s investment in drug and alcohol treatment. That was the most important part. Now we’d like to see the states match that with additional funds, but we won’t make our funds ­dependent upon the states.”

Health groups welcomed the finalisation of the national strategy. Alcohol Drug Foundation chief executive Erin Lalor said it was now up to governments to act on the outlined policies. “The strategy means we can now start doing and stop talking, because it’s been in development for a ­really long time,” Ms Lalor said.

“We’ve now got really clear options that we can focus on and it’s up to governments around Australia and other groups working to reduce alcohol-related harm and the alcohol industry to start to take serious measures and evidence-based measures that will reduce the significant harm from alcohol.”

Ms Lalor was disappointed the government had ruled out a volumetric tax. “We have been advocating for a long time for volumetric tax to be introduced. The strategy outlines it and we would hope to see pricing and taxation of alcohol being adopted to reduce alcohol-related harms.”

Canberra will spend $140m on programs to combat alcohol and drug addiction.

Primary Health Networks will receive $131.5m to commission new and existing drug and ­alcohol treatment services, while the government will commission a new report to estimate the social costs of alcohol to society.

Part 2 Belated alcohol strategy is a missed opportunity

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) is pleased the National Alcohol Strategy 2019-2028 is finally out but said it lacked ambition to prevent Australians suffering adverse health impacts of alcohol consumption.

“It is good news to have this strategy now finalised, albeit many years in the making and with too much influence from the alcohol industry,” PHAA CEO Terry Slevin said.

“The strategy recommends important policy options that can reduce alcohol related harm via both national and state level efforts.”

“All governments should invest in and commit to reducing the health and social burden of excess alcohol consumption,” Mr Slevin said.

“It is a shame the federal government has again ruled out the option of volumetric tax on alcohol, which is a fairer and more sensible way of taxing alcohol.

“This is about stopping people from getting injured, ill or dying due to alcohol, so why rule out this option?”

“The current alcohol tax system is a mess and is acknowledged as such by anyone who has considered the tax system in Australia.”

“We hope this important reform will again be considered at a time in the near future.“

“Let’s remember that alcohol is Australia’s number one drug problem. Harmful levels of consumption are a major health issue, associated with increased risk of chronic disease, injury and premature death,” Mr Slevin said.

“The announcement of funding for drug treatment services is modest but we welcome the support for a report assessing the social cost of alcohol.”

“When that report is completed we hope it will influence alcohol policy into the future.”

Part 3 The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) congratulates Federal, State and Territory Ministers for finalising the National Alcohol Strategy 2019–2028 (the NAS).

“Australia has not had a national strategy since 2011 and we congratulate Health Minister Greg Hunt for spearheading this successful outcome,” said FARE Director of Policy and Research Trish Hepworth.

“Given the high burden of harm from alcohol, including 144,000 hospitalisations each year, we trust that the NAS will support proportionate action from the Commonwealth, states and territories to protect Australians and their families,” she said.

FARE has also welcomed the Minister’s announcement that the Government will commission a report to estimate the social costs of alcohol to the community.

“Australia faces a $36 billion a year alcohol burden, with approximately a third due to alcohol dependence, a third caused by injuries, and the final third due to chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases,” Ms Hepworth said.

“In implementation, we urge governments to take action to increase the community’s awareness of the more than 200 injury conditions and life-threatening diseases caused by alcohol,” she said.

FARE strongly encourages the Federal Government to revisit alcohol taxation reform, which would be the most effective way to reduce the death toll from alcohol-related harm, which is almost 6,000 people every year.

“We know from multiple reviews that alcohol taxation is the most cost-effective measure to reduce alcohol harm because measures can be targeted towards reducing heavy drinking, while providing government with a source of revenue,” Ms Hepworth said.

Part 4 AMA

The announcement that the National Alcohol Strategy 2019–2028 (the NAS) has been agreed to by all States and Territories is welcome, but it is disappointing that it does not include a volumetric tax on alcohol, AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today.

“The last iteration of the NAS expired in 2011, so this announcement has been a long time coming,” Dr Bartone said.

“The AMA supports the positive announcements by the Government to reduce the misuse of alcohol. However, they simply do not go far enough.

“An incredibly serious problem in our community needs an equally serious and determined response.

“Doctors are at the front line in dealing with the devastating effects of excessive alcohol consumption. They treat the fractured jaws, the facial lacerations, the eye and head injuries that can occur as a result of excessive drinking.

“Doctors, and those working in hospitals and ambulance services, see the deaths and life-long injuries sustained from car accidents and violence fuelled by alcohol consumption.

“Healthcare staff, including doctors, often bear the brunt of alcohol-fuelled violence in treatment settings. Alcohol and other drugs in combination are often a deadly cocktail.

“Prolonged excessive amounts contribute to liver and heart disease, and alcohol is also implicated in certain cancers.

“All measures that reduce alcohol-fuelled violence and the harm caused by the misuse of alcohol, including taxing all products according to their alcohol content, should be considered in a national strategy.

“For this reason, we are extremely disappointed that the Government has ruled out considering a volumetric tax on alcohol.

“A national, coordinated approach to alcohol policy will significantly improve efforts to reduce harm.

“Alcohol places an enormous burden on our healthcare resources on our society and ultimately on us as a nation.

“Alcohol is currently the sixth leading contributor to the burden of disease in Australia, as well as costing Australian taxpayers an estimated $14 billion annually in social costs.

“The AMA has previously outlined the priorities we would like to see reflected in the Strategy, including action on awareness, taxation, marketing, and prevention and treatment services.

“Implementing effective and practical measures that reduce harms associated with alcohol misuse will benefit all Australians.”

Background

  • The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that alcohol and illicit drug use were the two leading risk factors for disease burden in males aged 15-44 in 2011.
  • The AIHW has linked alcohol use to 26 diseases and injuries, including six types of cancer, four cardiovascular diseases, chronic liver disease, and pancreatitis, and estimated that in 2013 the social costs of alcohol abuse in Australia was more than $14 billion.
  • A study conducted by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine in 2014 found that during peak alcohol drinking times, such as the weekend, up to one in eight hospital patients were there because of alcohol-related injuries or medical conditions. The report noted that the sheer volume of alcohol-affected patients created more disruption to Emergency Departments than those patients affected by ice.

 

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