NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : @healthgovau National Alcohol strategy 2018-2026 for public consultation Closes 11 February 2018

” The National Alcohol Strategy 2018- 2026 outlines Australia’s agreed approach to preventing and minimising alcohol-related harms.

The National Alcohol Strategy provides a national framework and highlights a number of opportunities for action under each of the priority areas of focus.

These opportunities are examples of activities or initiatives that could be considered at either local, jurisdictional (state and territory) or national levels, including a mix of broad population approaches and targeted approaches.”

Download a draft copy

Consultation Draft National Alcohol Strategy 2018-2026

Consultation closes 11 February 2018

The Department of Health has opened a public consultation process, and is inviting stakeholders and the general public to provide feedback on the National alcohol strategy 2018-2026.

See Website

As a sub-strategy of the National drug strategy 2017-2026, the National alcohol strategy is overseen by the Ministerial Drug and Alcohol Forum. The Forum consists of Ministers from across Australia with responsibility for alcohol and other drug policy  from the health and justice/law enforcement portfolios from each jurisdiction.

On 27 November 2017, members agreed that the draft National alcohol strategy will undergo a public consultation process to further inform the strategic direction and priorities of the strategy.

The online submission process is now open and will close on 11 February 2018. Feedback from the consultation will be considered by the Ministers at their next meeting in 2018, and the strategy revised.

To lodge a submission, please email nationaldrugstrategy@health.gov.au.

Disproportionate Impacts of Alcohol-Related Harm

This Strategy recognises that alcohol-related harms are not experienced uniformly across the population, with disproportionate levels of harm being experienced within some contexts and communities.

Read over 190 NACCHO Articles Alcohol and other Drugs posted over the past 5 years

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

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).26

For this reason, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer from disproportionate levels of harm from alcohol, including alcohol-related mortality rates that are 4.9 times higher than among non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.27

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.28

People in remote areas

People residing in remote areas have reported drinking alcohol in quantities that place them at risk of harm at higher levels that those living in less remote regions.

People in remote and very remote areas were 1.5 times as likely as people in major cities to consume 5 or more drinks at least monthly and 2.4 times as likely to consume 11 or more drinks

Pregnant women (or those planning a pregnancy)

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in birth defects and behavioural and neurodevelopmental abnormalities including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Data from states and territories have estimated FASD rates at 0.01 to 1.7 per 1000 births in the total population and 0.15 to 4.70 per 1000 births for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.31 There is evidence that indicates some communities are experiencing much higher incidences of FASD and therefore the lifelong impacts of FASD.32

The relationship between the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and the expression of FASD is complex, but avoiding drinking before or during pregnancy eliminates the risk of FASD.

Around 1 in 2 women report consuming alcohol during their pregnancy, with 1 in 4 women continuing to drink after they are aware they are pregnant. Of these women, 81% drank monthly or less with 16.2% drinking 2–4 times a month.33

Background

The Ministerial Drug and Alcohol Forum is co-Chaired by the Commonwealth Ministers with portfolio responsibility for alcohol and other drugs (AOD), and justice/law enforcement.

Membership consists of two Ministers from each jurisdiction, one each from the health/community services portfolios (with AOD policy responsibilities) and one from the justice/law enforcement portfolios.

The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have a shared responsibility to build safe and healthy communities through the collaborative delivery and implementation of national strategic frameworks to reduce AOD related harms for all Australians.

The Forum will be supported by the National Drug Strategy Committee (NDSC) in the implementation and monitoring of these national strategic frameworks.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health @KenWyattMP A Brave Young Aboriginal Dad’s Lifesaving Messages #diabetes #obesity, leading to #heart and #kidney failure.

“Jason strongly but humbly tells it like it is, there is no self-pity, just heartfelt statements of fact that apply to all Australians.

He pleads for everyone to re-think alcohol and drug use, including a special message for our Indigenous mob.

His words should be heeded by everyone but also reinforce my top Indigenous health priorities: Men’s health, kidney, eye and ear health, maternal and child health and reducing preventable hospital admissions.

His key message is for everybody, especially men, to look after themselves, so they can be there for their families and friends for as long as possible”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM paid tribute to his cousin’s bravery, talent, compassion and legacy.

Read over 330 NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health articles published by over the past 5 years

A heartbreaking video message has been released today, realising Jason Bartlett’s dying wish to raise awareness of the importance of men taking personal responsibility for their health.

View Jason’s Video Here

The 36 year old singer, songwriter and former television music show star recorded the video nine days before he passed away in Royal Perth Hospital in June, from complications of diabetes and obesity, leading to heart and kidney failure.

“In 2009, Jason made it through to the Top 24 on Australian Idol and continued his career after the show, writing, recording and performing with the popular Bartlett Brothers band,” Minister Wyatt said.

“We lost Jason shortly after he made the brave but agonising decision to cease dialysis. His final words are haunting and hard-hitting and ones he wanted every Australian to hear.

“His vision was always to change the world for the better through his music but his dream became to get the health message out.”

In the video, titled “Passing on Wisdom: Jason’s Diabetes Story”, the father of two tells how he was diagnosed with diabetes at 19 years of age. A combination of lack of health education and ignoring the danger signs gradually lead to a tragic sequence of chronic conditions that eventually took his sight and his mobility.

His key message is for everybody, especially men, to look after themselves, so they can be there for their families and friends for as long as possible.

“He wants all of us to take personal responsibility, listen to our loved ones and take advice from doctors and health professionals,” said the Minister.

“Jason says that looking after ourselves is an essential part of giving love to those around us.

“All of us are privileged to have shared in his amazing life and now we’re determined to share his quest to save the lives of others, through his message.

“If it can help just one person to make life-changing choices, Australia will be better for it, but I am sure his story will help many more consider changes that will lengthen and potentially save their lives.

“I’m joining with Jason’s family in encouraging everyone to watch his video, listen to his story and share it on social media, especially with those you love.”

Photo: Jason Bartlett’s wife Jaimee, brother Phil and family members launched the video with Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt. (Supplied: Family)

The video was produced by Jason Bartlett’s family, the University of Western Australia’s WA Centre for Rural Health, and media organisation Health Communication Resources.

It can also be shared from the WA Centre for Rural Health’s YouTube channel, at https://youtu.be/RcbQmILeDTs with a subtitled version at https://youtu.be/TvC1Tv6Z6zU

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @AIHW My Healthy Communities health risk factors including #Alcohol #HighBloodPressure #physicalinactivity

 ” Health risk factors are attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a disease or health disorder.

Examples of health risk factors include risky alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and high blood pressure.

High-quality information on health risk factors is important in providing an evidence base to inform health policy, program and service delivery.”

From My Healthy Communities

New information on lifetime risky alcohol consumption, high blood pressure and insufficient physical activity are presented in the Fact Sheets below.

This update is accompanied by an interactive web tool that shows how your local area compares with the national average and allows comparison between each area.

These fact sheets display variation in health risk factors across Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

In 2014–15:

  • Around 1 in 6 Australian adults (17%) reported lifetime risky alcohol consumption
  • Over half of Australian adults (56%) reported insufficient physical activity participation
  • Almost 1 in 3 Australian adults (34%) had high blood pressure.

1.A lifetime risky alcohol consumption

This fact sheet covers local-level results for the proportion of Australian adults (aged 18 years and over) who reported consuming more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day on average—thereby increasing their lifetime risk of harm from alcohol consumption. Results are presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Please note, the results presented are crude rates, which reflect the actual level of lifetime risky alcohol consumption in the community. However, caution is needed when making comparisons across PHNs as the rates presented do not account for differences in the age of the populations.

What is lifetime risky alcohol consumption?

Alcohol consumption refers to the consumption of drinks containing ethanol, commonly referred to as alcohol. The quantity, frequency or regularity with which alcohol is drunk provides a measure of the level of alcohol consumption.

Lifetime risky alcohol consumption refers to Australian adults consuming more than 2 standard drinks per day on average. That is, alcohol consumption exceeding the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol (see Box 1 for more information).

Based on survey data from 2014–15, 17.4% of Australian adults reported lifetime risky alcohol consumption.

Lifetime risky alcohol consumption Fact Sheet (PDF, 184 KB)

2.Insufficient physical activity 

This fact sheet covers local-level results for the proportion of Australian adults (18 years and over) who reported insufficient levels of physical activity. Results are presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Please note, the results presented are crude rates, which reflect the actual level of insufficient physical activity in the community. However, caution is needed when making comparisons across PHNs as the rates presented do not account for differences in the age of the populations.

What is insufficient physical activity?

Physical activity is the expenditure of energy generated by moving muscles in the body. Most physical activity occurs during leisure time, or through active transport and incidental activity such as housework or gardening.

Insufficient physical activity refers to physical activity levels that do not meet the Department of Health’s Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (see Box 1 for more information).

This includes adults (18–64 years) who did not complete more than 150 minutes of physical activity, on at least 5 sessions over a week, and older Australians (65+ years) who did not complete 30 minutes of activity on at least 5 days.

Based on self-reported survey data from 2014–15, 56.4% of Australian adults had insufficient levels of physical activity

Insufficient physical activity Fact Sheet (PDF, 186.1 KB)

3. High blood pressure

This fact sheet covers local-level results for the proportion of Australian adults (aged 18 years and over) who had high blood pressure and uncontrolled high blood pressure. Results are presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Please note, the results presented are crude rates, which reflect the actual level of high blood pressure in the community. However, caution is needed when making comparisons across PHNs as the rates presented do not account for differences in the age of the populations.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is defined in this fact sheet by the World Health Organization definition (see Box 1 for more information).

Uncontrolled high blood pressure as defined here refers to all people with measured high blood pressure, regardless of whether they are taking medication. It is presented for context in this fact sheet.

High blood pressure is an important and treatable cause of disease and death. It is a major risk factor for chronic diseases including stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.

The modifiable risk factors for high blood pressure include poor diet (particularly high salt intake), obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and insufficient physical activity. Lifestyle changes and medication can help to control high blood pressure.

Based on survey data from 2014–15, 33.7% of Australian adults had high blood pressure. There were 23.0% of Australian adults who had uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure Fact Sheet (PDF, 209.2 KB

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : New review explores the harmful effects of alcohol use in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context

 ” The review highlights that alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be understood within the social and historical context of colonisation, dispossession of land and culture, and economic exclusion.

While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are around 1.3 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Indigenous people, those who do drink alcohol are more likely to experience health-related harms than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

 Furthermore, the evidence presented in this review suggests that effective strategies to address the problem of harmful alcohol use include: alternative activities, brief interventions, treatment and ongoing care; taxation and price controls and other restrictions on availability; and community patrols and sobering up shelters “

The Australian Indigenous Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre (Knowledge Centre) has published a new Review of the harmful use of alcohol among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read over 188 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Alcohol Articles published over the past 5 years

https://nacchocommunique.com/category/alcohol-and-other-drugs/

The review explores the harmful effects of alcohol use in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context examining: patterns of use; health impacts; underlying causal factors; policies and interventions to address these impacts; and ways to further reduce harm.

View in Full Here

This review will help to inform, support and educate those working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia.

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Key facts

The Australian context

  • Harmful use of alcohol is a problem for the Australian community as a whole. It is estimated that in 2011, alcohol caused 5.1% of the total burden of disease in Australia.
  • The social cost of all drug use in Australia in 2004–05 was estimated at $55.2 billion ($79.9 billion in 2016 dollars), with alcohol alone contributing 27.3%, and alcohol combined with illicit drugs adding a further 1.9%.

Extent of alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be understood within the social and historical context of colonisation, dispossession of land and culture, and economic exclusion.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are about 1.3 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Indigenous people.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at least 1.2 and 1.3 times more likely to consume alcohol at levels that pose risks to their health over their lifetimes and on single drinking occasions than non-Indigenous people.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are more than twice as likely as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to consume alcohol at risky levels.

Health impacts of alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Excessive alcohol consumption poses a range of health risks – both on single drinking occasions and over a person’s lifetime, including alcoholic liver disease, behavioural disorders, assault, suicide and transport accidents.
  • In NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT from 2010–2014 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females died from conditions solely caused by alcohol more frequently than non-Indigenous males and females (4.7 and 6.1 times respectively).
  • The overall rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2015 was 2.1 times higher than among non-Indigenous people. For the period 2011–2015, 40% of male suicides and 30% of female suicides were attributable to alcohol use.
  • There is strong qualitative evidence linking alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and poor mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Age standardised rates of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the years 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2014-15 were 2.7, 2.3 and 2.4 times those of non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2011, alcohol accounted for an estimated 8.3% of the overall burden of disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; a rate 2.3 times higher than among non-Indigenous people.
  • In addition to harms to health, high levels of alcohol use can contribute to a range of social harms, including child neglect and abuse, interpersonal violence, homicide, and other crimes.

Policies and strategies

  • Initial responses to the concerns about harmful alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the 1970s were driven not by governments but by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves who recognised that non-Indigenous mainstream responses were non-existent or largely culturally inappropriate.
  • The level of harm caused by alcohol in any community is a function of complex inter-relationships between the availability of alcohol, and levels of individual wellbeing and social conditions that either protect against or predispose people or groups to harmful levels of consumption.
  • As well as addressing the consequences of harmful levels of alcohol consumption, policies and intervention strategies must also address the underlying causal relationships. In the case of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people this means addressing social inequality.
  • As part of the current Australian Government’s Indigenous advancement strategy (IAS), a number of programs are in place that aim to address social inequality and the broad social determinants of harmful alcohol use.
  • Government policy documents most directly relevant to the minimisation of alcohol-related harm among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the National drug strategy 2017–2026 (NDS) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ drug strategy 2014–2019 (NATSIPDS).
  • The National drug strategy 2017–2026 provides a tripartite approach to reducing the demand for and supply of alcohol, and the immediate harms its causes.
  • There is a strong evidence base for the effectiveness of a range of interventions including: alternative activities, brief interventions, treatment and ongoing care; taxation and price controls and other restrictions on availability; and community patrols and sobering-up shelters.
  • Government programs to address Aboriginal and Torres Islander inequality have been in place since the 1970s – what is now the National Drug Strategy was introduced in 1985. While there have been some improvements, as evidenced by various Government reports, progress has been slow and while there have been increases in funding these have not been sufficient to meet need.
  • There is evidence that – provided with adequate resourcing – the culturally safe services provided by community-controlled organisations result in better outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be key players in the design and implementation of interventions to address harmful alcohol use in their own communities, with capacity building within Aboriginal community-controlled organisations a central focus.
  • The way forward is for Australian Governments to honour the commitments made in the NATSIPDS to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to resource interventions on the basis of need.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says ‘The latest review, written by Professor Dennis Gray and colleagues from the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) in Western Australia, is a vital new addition to our suite of knowledge exchange resources.

It makes the large body of evidence available in a succinct, evidence-based summary prepared by world renowned experts.

This delivers considerable time savings to a time poor workforce striving to keep up to date in a world where the sheer weight of new information can often seem overwhelming.

I am delighted to release this important new resource to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drug (AOD) sector.’

The review highlights that alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be understood within the social and historical context of colonisation, dispossession of land and culture, and economic exclusion.

While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are around 1.3 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Indigenous people, those who do drink alcohol are more likely to experience health-related harms than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

Furthermore, the evidence presented in this review suggests that effective strategies to address the problem of harmful alcohol use include: alternative activities, brief interventions, treatment and ongoing care; taxation and price controls and other restrictions on availability; and community patrols and sobering up shelters.

http://aodknowledgecentre.net.au/aodkc/alcohol/reviews/alcohol-review

This review will help to inform, support and educate those working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : #NT set to lead the nation on alcohol policy reform says @AMSANTaus

 ” This report has the potential to be a game-changer in responding to the alcohol-related harms that are far too prevalent here in the Northern Territory.

“It is really heartening to see how much the review has listened to the long-standing policy solutions that AMSANT has been advocating for more than a decade.

Implementing this report will reduce premature death, hospitalisations, domestic violence and child neglect. It will help significantly to close the health gap in the NT. ”

Mr John Paterson CEO  Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) today welcomed the final report of the NT Review of Alcohol Legislation and Policy released last Thursday.

Download the Final Report HERE

NT Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review

“It is really heartening to see how much the review has listened to the long-standing policy solutions that AMSANT has been advocating for more than a decade”, he said.

“For a very long time we have been concerned about the harms being caused by cheap grog, too many outlets and take-away licenses, too much alcohol promotion and lack of adequate data, amongst other issues.

“This report addresses all of these issues and goes further, providing a comprehensive response to alcohol problems in the NT. Previous attempts at reform, such as the “Enough is Enough” program, not been far-reaching enough to have a major impact, but we are confident that this report provides the policy options to effectively deal with the NT’s alcohol problems.

“AMSANT thanks the Gunner Government for their immediate and emphatic response to the report in supporting all but one of the 220 recommendations.

The leadership shown by our Chief Minister on this key public health issue is commendable.

“The Territory is on the cusp of finally coming to terms with alcohol and the harm it causes. Instead of being the jurisdiction famous for its “bloody good drinkers”, we now have an opportunity to lead the nation in action to address alcohol.

“Implementing this report will reduce premature death, hospitalisations, domestic violence and child neglect. It will help significantly to close the health gap in the NT.

Research shows that in any population, the most disadvantaged people are most impacted by alcohol and have the most to gain from an effective public health response”, he concluded.

Riley review: Floor price on alcohol, 400sqm rule to be scrapped in wake of NT alcohol policy paper

Photo: Michael Gunner (centre) says he agrees with nearly all the recommendations of Trevor Riley (left). (ABC News: Felicity James)

Published HERE

The review by former chief justice Trevor Riley could usher in some of the biggest-ever changes to the Northern Territory’s alcohol policies.

Already the Gunner Government has said it will accept in principle nearly all of the 220 recommendations from the review, including a floor price or volumetric tax on alcohol products and a policy shift away from floor-size restrictions.

Major recommendations of the Riley Review:

  • The NT Liquor Act be rewritten
  • Immediate moratorium on takeaway liquor licences
  • Reduce grocery stores selling alcohol by phasing out store licences
  • Floor price/volumetric tax on alcohol products designed to reduce availability of cheap alcohol
  • Shift away from floor size restrictions for liquor outlets and repeal 400-square-metre restrictions
  • Reinstating an independent Liquor Commission
  • Legislating to make it an offence for someone to operate a boat or other vessel while over the limit
  • Establish an alcohol research body in the NT
  • Trial a safe spaces program where people can manage their consumption and seek intervention

“I got that one wrong going into the election and it has been good to see that Trevor [Riley] has come forward with this report with a much more considered, better way of dealing with density and sales of take-away outlets,” Mr Gunner said following the release of the report.

The Government has also said it will enact today a “complete moratorium” on all new take-away alcohol licences, including at greenfield sites.Attorney-General Natasha Fyles said the Northern Territory had the highest rate of alcohol consumption of anywhere in the world.

But the AHA’s opposition to Dan Murphy’s in the NT continues.

“We see that there are some recommendations in there in relation to additional licencing fees… to put an additional impost on businesses above the GST… we would see would be unfair,” he said.

“If the spirit of the review is followed in the Liquor Act, then the end result will be a reduction in alcohol in the volume of alcohol in the community.”

The national branch of the Australian Hotels Association does not support a floor price but the Northern Territory branch is in favour of it and has widely accepted the Riley review.

The figure would be indexed against ordinary wages and evaluated after three years.

“Floor space doesn’t impact on the amount of alcohol out there… it’s the price that makes the alcohol obtainable… if we’ve got people selling bottles of wine for $3, that’s cheaper than water, it seems to me you’ve clearly got a problem,” he said.

It said the relationship between the size of these premises and any increased harm is less clear, dismissing the claim that floor space was a contributing factor to alcohol related harm.

Floor price a more powerful way to reduce harm

He also acknowledged the Territory’s problem with alcohol-related harm and promised to sell liquor responsibly, if the licence was to be granted.

In a statement he said the company planned to move ahead with their application for a liquor licence in the Northern Territory.

Dan Murphy’s will try to operate in the NT

Other reforms include introducing licensing inspectors to help police at bottle shops, a move the NT Police Association has been pushing for.

Once the review is in place, one of the first priorities would be to reinstate an independent Liquor Commission, followed by a complete rewrite of the Liquor Act, which is expected to take 12 months.

“It is time that the Northern Territory gets rid of the tag of being an alcohol-fuelled community,” Ms Fyles said

He said details of how the floor price on alcohol will operate are yet to be determined, and any such price would be abolished if the Federal Government were to introduce its own volumetric tax.

Another recommendation that the Government has said it will back is a law to make it an offence for a person to operate or navigate a vessel on the water with a blood-alcohol content above 0.05 per cent.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner conceded that he made an error in pushing for the 400-square-metre rule, which had been dubbed a “Dan Ban” because it was seen as preventing Dan Murphy’s from opening a large store in Darwin.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Alcohol and other Drugs #GAPC2017 Download @AIHW National drug household survey

  ” The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have released the National drug household survey: detailed findings 2016 report.

The report aims to provide insight into Australians’ use of, and attitudes to, drugs and alcohol in 2016.

A key finding of the report is around mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. ( see Part 2 below for full details )

Download the full 168 page report

National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016

Read over 186 NACCHO Alcohol and other Drug articles published over 5 years

This report expands on the key findings from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) that were released on 1 June 2017.

It presents more detailed analysis including comparisons between states and territories and for population groups. Unless otherwise specified, the results presented in this report are for those aged 14 or older.

Indigenous Australians

As Indigenous Australians constitute only 2.4 per cent of the 2016 NDSHS (unweighted) sample (or 568 respondents), the results must be interpreted with caution, particularly those for illicit drug use.

Smoking

In 2016, the daily smoking rate among Indigenous Australians was considerably higher than non-Indigenous people but has declined since 2010 and 2013 (decreased from 35% in 2010 to 32% in 2013 and to 27% in 2016) (Figure 8.7). The NDSHS was not designed to detect small differences among the Indigenous population, so even though the smoking rate declined between 2013 and 2016, it was not significant.

The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) were specifically designed to represent Indigenous Australians (see Box 8.1 for further information).

After adjusting for differences in age structures, Indigenous people were 2.3 times as likely to smoke daily as non-Indigenous people in 2016 (Table 8.7).

Read over 113 NACCHO Smoking articles published last 5 years

Alcohol

Overall, Indigenous Australians were more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol than non-Indigenous Australians (31% compared with 23%, respectively) and this has been increasing since 2010 (was 25%) (Figure 8.8).

Among those who did drink, a higher proportion of Indigenous Australians drank at risky levels, and placed themselves at harm of an alcoholrelated injury from single drinking occasion, at least monthly (35% compared with 25% for non-Indigenous).

The (rate ratio) gap in drinking rates was even greater when looking at the consumption of 11 or more standard drinks at least monthly. Indigenous Australians were 2.8 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to drink 11 or more standard drinks monthly or more often (18.8% compared with 6.8%).

About 1 in 5 (20%) Indigenous Australian exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016; a slight but non-significant decline from 23% in 2013, and significantly lower than the 32% in 2010. The proportion of non-Indigenous Australians exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016 was 17.0% and significantly declined from 18.1% in 2013.

Illicit drugs

Other than ecstasy and cocaine, Indigenous Australians aged 14 or older used illicit drugs at a higher rate than the general population (Table 8.6). In 2016, Indigenous Australians were: 1.8 times as likely to use any illicit drug in the last 12 months; 1.9 times as likely to use cannabis; 2.2 times as likely to use meth/amphetamines; and 2.3 times as likely to misuse pharmaceuticals as non-Indigenous people. These differences were still apparent even after adjusting for differences in age structure (Table 8.7). There were no significant changes in illicit use of drugs among Indigenous Australians between 2013 and 2016.

Read over 64 NACCHO Ice drug articles published last 5 years

1 in 8 Australians smoke daily and 6 in 10 have never smoked

  • Smoking rates have been on a long-term downward trend since 1991, but the daily smoking rate did not significantly decline over the most recent 3 year period (was 12.8% in 2013 and 12.2% in 2016).
  • Among current smokers, 3 in 10 (28.5%) tried to quit but did not succeed and about 1 in 3 (31%) do not intend to quit.
  • People living in the lowest socioeconomic areas are more likely to smoke than people living in the highest socioeconomic area but people in the lowest socioeconomic area were the only group to report a significant decline in daily smoking between 2013 and 2016 (from 19.9% to 17.7%).

8 in 10 Australians had consumed at least 1 glass of alcohol in the last 12 months

  • The proportion exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines declined between 2013 and 2016 (from 18.2% to 17.1%); however, the proportion exceeding the single occasion risk guidelines once a month or more remained unchanged at about 1 in 4.
  • Among recent drinkers: 1 in 4 (24%) had been a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2016; about 1 in 6 (17.4%) put themselves or others at risk of harm while under the influence of alcohol in the last 12 months; and about 1 in 10 (9%) had injured themselves or someone else because of their drinking in their lifetime.
  • Half of recent drinkers had undertaken at least some alcohol moderation behaviour. The main reason chosen was for health reasons.
  • A greater proportion of people living in Remote or very remote areas abstained from alcohol in 2016 than in 2013 (26% compared with 17.5%) and a lower proportion exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines (26% compared with 35%).

About 1 in 8 Australians had used at least 1 illegal substance in the last 12 months and 1 in 20 had misused a pharmaceutical drug

  • In 2016, the most commonly used illegal drugs that were used at least once in the past 12 months were cannabis (10.4%), followed by cocaine (2.5%), ecstasy (2.2%) and meth/amphetamines (1.4%).
  • However, ecstasy and cocaine were used relatively infrequently and when examining the share of Australians using an illegal drug weekly or more often in 2016, meth/amphetamines (which includes ‘ice’) was the second most commonly used illegal drug after cannabis.
  • Most meth/amphetamine users used ‘ice’ as their main form, increasing from 22% of recent meth/amphetamine users in 2010 to 57% in 2016.

Certain groups disproportionately experience drug-related risks

  • Use of illicit drugs in the last 12 months was far more common among people who identified as being homosexual or bisexual; ecstasy and meth/amphetamines use in this group was 5.8 times as high as heterosexual people.
  • People who live in Remote and very remote areas, unemployed people and Indigenous Australians continue to be more likely to smoke daily and use illicit drugs than other population groups.
  • The proportion of people experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress increased among recent illicit drug users between 2013 and 2016—from 17.5% to 22% but also increased from 8.6% to 9.7% over the same period for the non-illicit drug using population (those who had not used an illicit drug in the past 12 months).
  • Daily smoking, risky alcohol consumption and recent illicit drug use was lowest in the Australian Capital Territory and highest in the Northern Territory.

The majority of Australians support policies aimed at reducing the acceptance and use of drugs, and the harms resulting from drug use

  • There was generally greater support for education and treatment and lower support for law enforcement measures.

‘In 2016, 42% of meth/amphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29% in 2013, while the rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18% to 27%,’ said AIHW spokesperson, Matthew James. ‘Drug use is a complex issue, and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems, and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use.’

About 1 in 20 Australians reported misusing pharmaceuticals, with 75% of recent painkiller users reporting misusing an ‘over the counter’ codeine product in the past 12 months. The AIHW will be publishing more detailed data on pharmaceutical misuse later in 2017.

In addition to illicit drugs, the report also provides insights into Australians’ use of alcohol and tobacco, and notes some improvements in risky behaviour (such as driving while under the influence of alcohol), as well as improved smoking rates among people living in lower socioeconomic areas.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

 Part 3 Mental illness rising among meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users

Mental illnesses are becoming more common among meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings 2016, builds on preliminary results released in June, and gives further insight into Australians’ use of, and attitudes to, drugs and alcohol in 2016.

The report shows that among people who had recently (in the last 12 months) used an illicit drug, about 27% had been diagnosed or treated for a mental illness—an increase from 21% in 2013. Rates of mental illness were particularly high—and saw the most significant increases—for meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users.

‘In 2016, 42% of meth/amphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29% in 2013, while the rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18% to 27%,’ said AIHW spokesperson Matthew James.

‘Drug use is a complex issue, and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems, and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use’.

Similarly, the report also reveals a complex relationship between employment status and drug use.

‘For example, people who were unemployed were about 3 times as likely to have recently used meth/amphetamines as employed people, and about 2 times as likely to use cannabis or smoke tobacco daily. On the other hand, employed people were more likely to use cocaine than those who were unemployed,’ Mr James said.

Today’s report also shows higher rates of drug use among people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, with the largest differences seen in the use of ecstasy and meth/amphetamines.

‘Homosexual and bisexual people were almost 6 times as likely as heterosexual people to use each of these drugs, and were also about 4 times as likely to use cocaine as heterosexual people, and 3 times more likely to use cannabis or misuse pharmaceutical drugs.’ Mr James said.

Overall, about 1 in 20 Australians reported misusing pharmaceuticals, with 75% of recent painkiller users reporting misusing an ‘over the counter’ codeine product in the past 12 months. The AIHW will be publishing comprehensive data on pharmaceutical misuse later in 2017.

‘Our report also shows that more Australians are in favour of the use of cannabis in clinical trials to treat medical conditions—87% now support its use, up from 75% in 2013. We also found that 85% of people now support legislative changes to permit its use for medical purposes in general, up from 69% in 2013,’ Mr James said.

In addition to illicit drugs, today’s report also provides insights into Australians’ use of alcohol and tobacco, and notes some improvements in risky behaviour (such as driving while under the influence of alcohol), as well as improved smoking rates among people living in lower socioeconomic areas.

The report also contains data for each state and territory in Australia, and shows differences in drug use between the jurisdictions. For example, recent use of meth/amphetamine was highest in Western Australia, but the use of cocaine was highest in New South Wales.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @sistaquit Smoking : Smoking rates among pregnant Indigenous women tackled in major research project

 ” In 2014 it was reported 45 per cent of surveyed Indigenous mothers smoked during pregnancy, compared to 13 per cent of non-Indigenous pregnant women.

Those figures have spurred University of Newcastle associate professor Gillian Gould to study what can be done to help reduce rates of Indigenous women smoking while pregnant.

It’s not only that they may be born with low birth rate, or have risks of premature birth, but it can set them up for things like obesity, diabetes, a higher risk of heart disease, and lots of respiratory illnesses.”

Smoking rates among pregnant Indigenous women tackled in major research project 

See full ABC report here or Part 2 below

Part 1 Project update 26 September

Currently we have received EOIs from about 20 ACCHS in 5 states that we are targeting for the SISTAQUIT study. These states are NSW, QLD, SA, WA and NT.

These sites will now undergo a two-way discussion for mutual interest, and to find out what protocols we need to go through to get their communities signed up.

We are aiming for 30 services to be signed up to SISTAQUIT by end of the year.

We will have a trade table at the NACCHO AGM, so interested CEOs and managers of ACCHS can get more information,  meet with Joley Manton face-to-face, and sign up their interest or consent.

Our pilot study “ICAN QUIT in Pregnancy” has been successful wrapped up, and we are applying our learnings to go forward to this larger SISTAQUIT trial.

We would like to thank pilot ACCHS services in NSW, SA and QLD for their tremendous support in making this happen.

What does the SISTAQUIT™ in Pregnancy study aim to do?

Our study aims to improve the provision of timely, evidence-based smoking cessation support to pregnant women attending Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS), by training health providers such as GPs, Aboriginal Health Workers and midwives in culturally appropriate smoking cessation care.

The SISTAQUIT intervention (culturally appropriate smoking cessation training for health providers) has been developed over a decade. We most recently explored the feasibility and acceptability of the SISTAQUIT intervention through the ICAN QUIT in Pregnancy pilot study with six Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services.

We aim to increase the proportion of health providers offering assistance in quitting to pregnant smokers and to improve the quit rates of pregnant smokers, measured by carbon monoxide testing during pregnancy and after birth. We also aim to improve birth weights and respiratory outcomes of the babies in the first six months of life.

We are currently seeking EOIs from AMS interested in participating in the trial. Funding is available to cover AMS trial participation costs, and pregnant mothers will be offered a voucher for their time for each study visit.

Contact Details

School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle:

Assoc. Prof. Gillian Gould: gillian.gould@newcastle.edu.au

Ms Joley Manton: sistaquit@newcastle.edu.au;  Phone: (02) 4033 5720

Website: www.newcastle.edu.au/SISTAQUIT

Part 2

 

SISTAQUIT project aiming to help 450 Indigenous women quit smoking.

 “We want to show that SISTAQUIT works, and that women are able to quit with our approach.

We wanted to be able to reach out eventually to any service in Australia through the internet, so we decided to do that through interactive webinars.

We know now that quite a few chronic diseases are set up by babies being exposed to smoking when they’re in the womb,”

Associate Professor Gould said

It is hoped a large-scale research project will help provide clearer solutions for tackling smoking rates among pregnant Indigenous women across the country.

In 2014 it was reported 45 per cent of surveyed Indigenous mothers smoked during pregnancy, compared to 13 per cent of non-Indigenous pregnant women.

Those figures have spurred University of Newcastle associate professor Gillian Gould to study what can be done to help reduce rates of Indigenous women smoking while pregnant.

It’s not only that they may be born with low birth rate, or have risks of premature birth, but it can set them up for things like obesity, diabetes, a higher risk of heart disease, and lots of respiratory illnesses.

“From that point of view, it is important.

“We know that one of the problems is that women are not given enough help to quit smoking.”

Associate Professor Gould has been working on the multi-phase research project for a number of years.

In the first phase of the study, the research team worked with Indigenous communities in the NSW Hunter Valley to develop a suite of resources to train health providers in supporting women while they quit smoking.

Many of those resources have been digitally focused.

Phase two involved a pilot project using those resources, and was implemented in NSW, South Australia and Queensland.

“We had trained all of the health providers at those services,” Associate Professor Gould said

Project aiming to give health workers effective tools

With the pilot study finished, the research is now expanding into 30 Aboriginal medical centres around the country, with the SISTAQUIT project aiming to help 450 Indigenous women quit smoking.

“We will link up with the services, and we’re conducting three one-hour webinars, which will be live and interactive,” Associate Professor Gould said.

“We [also] have this booklet that women receive, and within that booklet are embedded different videos.

“The women can use an app on their phone, and when they scan the little screenshot of the video that’s in the booklet, they can hear [information] from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals which is going to help them quit smoking.

“We’re mainly aiming it at the health professionals — GPs, midwives, Aboriginal health workers — to give them training, and then they have these resources that are going to, in consultation with women, help them quit.

“By doing it this way and being able to do it in enough women, we will get the answer — ‘is this approach the best approach?’ — and therefore, can the Government then scale-up our approach to make those webinars and resources available across the whole of Australia?”

Cultural sensitivities are observed in the training materials, and Associate Professor Gould said that helped build trust.

“We’re talking to women, giving them accurate, factual messages, but in a way that’s delivered by people they would trust,” she said.

“We’ve developed the whole approach with Aboriginal medical services, and we’ve had Aboriginal investigators on our team guiding us and working very closely with us

“By doing it this way and being able to do it in enough women, we will get the answer — ‘is this approach the best approach?’ — and therefore, can the Government then scale-up our approach to make those webinars and resources available across the whole of Australia?”

Cultural sensitivities are observed in the training materials, and Associate Professor Gould said that helped build trust.

“We’re talking to women, giving them accurate, factual messages, but in a way that’s delivered by people they would trust,” she said.

“We’ve developed the whole approach with Aboriginal medical services, and we’ve had Aboriginal investigators on our team guiding us and working very closely with us

Hopes smoking rates will drop

The study is set to last until 2021, and Associate Professor Gould was optimistic the approach would help reduce rates of smoking.

“This is the real world; it’s a real-world study, so this is what life is like,” she said.

“In our pilot study so far, we’ve had four women quit out of 22, which means we’ve already got a quit rate of almost 25 per cent. The usual quit rate is about 3 per cent. So, we think we’re doing pretty good.

“We’re aiming in the bigger trial to improve the quit rate from the baseline of 3 per cent up to 11 per cent, but already in our pilot we’ve exceeded our aim.

“You never know if this is going to work or not, and that’s why [we’re] doing the study

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Strokeweek : #Fightstroke Aboriginal people are up to three times more likely to suffer a stroke than non-Indigenous

 

” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are up to three times more likely to suffer a stroke than non-Indigenous Australians and almost twice as likely to die, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It’s an alarming figure and one that  prompted the National Stroke Foundation in 2016 to urge the Federal Government to fund a critical $44 million awareness campaign in a bid to close the gap .

The good news is most strokes are preventable and treatable.

However communities need to be empowered to protect themselves from this insidious disease.”

Sharon McGowan, Stroke Foundation CEO ( see full Aboriginal Stroke statistics part 2 below

Download the 48 Page support guide :

journeyafterstroke_indigenous_0

Read over 75 Stroke related articles published by NACCHO over past 5 years

“Never had I ever come across one ( stroke ) or heard much about them. I had nothing to do with them,”

When I woke up, I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t communicate. I couldn’t tell anyone I was still here. It was really scary. I’d never seen the effects of a stroke.

First, I lost my voice, then my vision, my [ability to] swallow and my movement of all my body parts. I lost all my bowel and bladder function. I’ve still got bad sight but I can see again. My speech took about six months.

With help from the Aboriginal Disability Network, they advocated to get me out and get the right support equipment at home “

For Tania Lewis, an Awabakal woman, stroke was something that only happened to older people. But in 2011, Tania suffered a severe stroke at the age of 39 that would leave her with permanent right-sided hemiplegia – paralysis of one side of the body.

Pictured above : Editor of NACCHO Communique and Stroke Foundation Consumer Council Board Member Colin Cowell (left ) with fellow stroke survivor Tania Lewis at an NDIS workshop in Coffs Harbour conducted by Joe Archibald (right )

Part 1 Stroke Foundation in 2016 called on government to close the gap

Originally published here

A stroke occurs when supply of blood to the brain is disturbed suddenly. The longer it remains untreated, the heightened the risk of stroke-related brain damage.

Medical treatment during the first onset of symptoms can significantly improve a sufferer’s chance of survival and of successful rehabilitation.

In Australia, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in adults, accounting for 25 per cent of all chronic disability. The NSF reports that roughly 50,000 strokes occur per year with over 437,000 people living with stroke across the country. While severity varies, two thirds of victims, like Tania, are left with impeding disabilities

But in 2011, Tania suffered a severe stroke at the age of 39 that would leave her with permanent right-sided hemiplegia – paralysis of one side of the body.

The burden of stroke doesn’t just fall on the patient, but can take a significant toll on family and carers.

“The doctor at the hospital tried to take Power of Attorney and Guardianship away from me and give it to the Guardianship Board, because he didn’t believe that [my husband] Len or anyone could look after me,” Tania recalls.

“I was put through hell. I figured life wasn’t worth living anymore because they took everything away from me. I couldn’t go home to my family. So I tried to off myself.

“Then all of a sudden, one day the doctor said, ‘You can go home. We can’t rehabilitate you anymore’. At home, I was having seizures for a while. My hubby wouldn’t sleep. He and his mum would take shifts looking after me. We tried to get assistance but there was nothing for young people. So one day, my husband collapsed on the lounge room floor from exhaustion. It was just a nightmare. That’s how I ended up in aged care.”

Tania spent the next two and a half years between three aged care facilities.

“I wouldn’t wish it upon nobody,” she says.

It was during her nightly ritual of chatting with her daughter via Facebook that Tania typed “young people in nursing homes” into Google. The search engine’s results would lead to her life-changing encounter with the YPINH.

“With help from the Aboriginal Disability Network, they advocated to get me out and get the right support equipment at home. Whatever I need, physio, OT – they’ve got my back. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.”

Today, Tania is working with the Aboriginal Disability Network, helping Indigenous Australians navigate their way through the National Healthcare System.

It has long been recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a life expectancy that is approximately 20 years less than non-Indigenous Australians (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Recent data from the ABS shows that up to 80 per cent of the mortality gap can be attributed to chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

For many Aboriginal communities, especially those in remote regions, socio-economic factors play an important role. Kerin O’Dea from Darwin’s Menzies School of Health Research cites unemployment, poor education outcomes and limited access to fresh foods as key factors in her paper, Preventable chronic diseases among Indigenous Australians.

Lifestyle related risks such as smoking, alcohol misuse, stress, poor diet, and inadequate physical activity also need to be addressed, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare .

But the first step, McGowan says, is for indigenous stroke sufferers to recognise the signs of a stroke in themselves and their family members. The NSF recommends the F.A.S.T. test as the most effective way to remember the most common signs of a stroke.

Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms: Can they lift both arms?
Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time: Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.

“If I had known that because I’d lost my vision I had suffered a stroke, I could’ve put two and two together and got help, but I didn’t know anything,” Tania says.

“I was a heavy smoker, but not anymore – no way. Life’s too important. I didn’t ever know anything about a stroke – I was more thinking when you smoke, you can have lung problems and lose your fingers, like on the packets. But they don’t say anything about a stroke – they don’t advertise that stuff.”

The Stroke Foundation called on the Federal Government to fund an urgent $44 million campaign to address the gap in stroke care. For more information on stroke and the campaign, visit strokefoundation.com.au.

Part 2 Aboriginal Stroke Facts

From here

  • The incidence rate of stroke for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians has been found to be 2.6 times higher for men and 3.0 for women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2008; Katzenellenbogan et al. 2010) compared to non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and many suggest that these figures may in fact be underestimates (Thrift et al 2011).
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are known to experience stroke at a younger age than their non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counterparts, (Katzenellenbogen et al., 2010; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2004) with 60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander non-fatal stroke burden occurring in the 25-54 year age-group compared to 24% in the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander group (Katzenellenbogen et al., 2010).
  • The prevalence of stroke is similarly significantly higher at younger ages among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Katzenellenbogen 2013), with a significantly higher prevalence of co-morbidities among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients under 70 years of age, including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic rheumatic heart disease, ischaemic heart disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. This reflects the increased clinical complexity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stroke patients compared with non-Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander patients.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stroke patients aged 18–64 years have a threefold chance of dying or being dependent at discharge compared to non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients (Kilkenny et al., 2012).

Aboriginal Health News : Sly grog’ and ‘homebrew’: Examination of illicit alcohol and impacts on #Indigenous communities –Report

 

” The initial achievements in communities under alcohol restrictions have been undermined over time so that alcohol is likely to remain a lead contributor to the high rates of premature death and avoidable disease, crime, violence and injuries.

To be effective, alcohol supply controls must also go hand-in-hand with initiatives that address the demand for alcohol and the broad social determinants underlying alcohol misuse,”

JCU’s Professor Alan Clough led a team that interviewed more than 380 people living and working in remote Indigenous communities in Queensland where there was either a total or partial alcohol ban.

Picture Above : A large quantity of alcohol seized in 2015 which was destined for Pormpuraaw

Conclusions

Sly grog has serious consequences which are likely to become magnified in small remote communities. Our data indicates this is a long-standing issue that appears to be escalating. There is a strong imperative for individuals to sell illicit alcohol where there is high demand.

Although the study’s very richness also limits generalisability of specific harms and impacts to other settings [42], the structure and logic of the model we have developed may be transferable to remote Indigenous communities across Australia where similar alcohol controls have been tried. The strategies described here may assist to inform better regional management of this significant issue.

Download the report here Report Sly Grog QLD communities

Sly grog’ and ‘homebrew’: a qualitative examination of illicit alcohol and some of its impacts on Indigenous communities with alcohol restrictions in regional and remote Queensland (Australia)

Read on line HERE

Illicit suppliers were motivated by a sustained demand for alcohol and consumers’ willingness to pay inflated prices.

“Prices of ‘sly grog’ reported were, on average, from four to six times, and up to 11 times, its legal retail value. It’s bought in bulk from licensed premises located long distances from the communities and smuggled in by various methods,” said Professor Clough.

Researchers, including team member Dr Michelle Fitts, were told that some illicit suppliers carefully watched busy local police officers, ready to alert others bringing alcohol into the area while also using decoy vehicles and false reports of suicides and accidents to divert police resources.

Dr Fitts said: “I heard reports of people bringing in illicit alcohol at night, without headlights, at speed, on unsealed roads and bush tracks, with vehicles heavily loaded with alcohol and people.”

Professor Clough said the initial achievements in communities under alcohol restrictions have been undermined over time so that alcohol is likely to remain a lead contributor to the high rates of premature death and avoidable disease, crime, violence and injuries.

Professor Clough said more could be done to curb the illicit trade in communities where alcohol is restricted.

“At the moment, the ‘bulk sales register’ used by liquor stores is the only form of documentation for bulk takeaway sales. It’s paper-based and this limits its capacity to be readily accessed by enforcement.  Also, the current regulations fail to cover licensees in a sufficiently wide catchment area since our evidence shows that ‘sly grog’ sellers are willing to travel very long distances to circumvent liquor licensing conditions.”

Professor Clough and Dr Fitts agree there also needs to be a clearer legal distinction between ‘sly grog’ sellers and consumers, with organised smugglers often receiving punishments similar to those found in possession of prohibited types of alcohol for their own use.

Professor Clough emphasised that the problem was not just one of law enforcement and ultimately needed a collaborative response involving other service agencies, including alcohol and drug treatment services.

“To be effective, alcohol supply controls must also go hand-in-hand with initiatives that address the demand for alcohol and the broad social determinants underlying alcohol misuse,” he said.

Professor Clough said as far as he was aware the study was the first time illicit alcohol had been charted in this degree of detail from legal purchase to illegal on-selling.

Summary

In communities affected by AMPs in Queensland (Australia), illicit alcohol supply and consumption is consistently reported as an issue of concern. These reports most often reference the more remote communities where total prohibition is in place. ‘Sly grog’ is the overwhelming and widespread concern while ‘homebrew’ is a persistent issue, particularly in one community and intermittently in a few others. Consistent with the limited information we have about other ‘sly grog’ markets in Indigenous Australian communities [15], illicit suppliers were driven largely by a sustained and continued demand for alcohol in combination with consumers’ willingness to pay the inflated prices. At the high profit rates reported (up to 11 times normal retail value), the potential value of the trade in these communities, where income-earning opportunities are limited, would provide a very significant motivation for its continuance.