A coalition of 47 organisations is lobbying for the issue of alcohol-related harm in regional and rural areas to be made a policy priority by all political parties ahead of the March state election.
Regional, rural and remote communities experience disproportionate levels of alcohol harm, with domestic assaults 12-times higher in rural and remote regions compared to NSW as a whole.NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance's Tony Brown
The NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance, an association of various health, community, emergency services and research organisations released a paper this week stating the issue of alcohol-related harm is far worse in regional areas than “renowned city hotspots”.
“Regional, rural and remote communities experience disproportionate levels of alcohol harm, with domestic assaults 12-times higher in rural and remote regions compared to NSW as a whole,” alliance spokesperson Tony Brown, from Newcastle University, said this week.
“And the big killer in rural NSW is motor vehicle accidents, where alcohol is a factor in 85 per cent of crash fatalities compared to 17 per cent in major cities.”
The coalition, which includes the Australian Medical Association and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and the Cancer Council, has put forward a raft of policy ideas including banning outdoor alcohol advertising from government property, which would including public transport.
The policy document says the “normalisation” of alcohol in Australia “distracts from the enormity of the problem”, with communities “bombarded” with alcohol commercials while receiving “no alternative health messaging”.
The document states 83 per cent of NSW adults feel more should be done to prevent harm caused by alcohol, which is “one of the leading contributors to death and disability across the country”.
The organisation is also pushing for a $30million alcohol awareness campaign focusing on the long term health effects of regular alcohol consumption, which include cancer, heart disease and dementia.
In May 2018 the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority rejected an application to move a packaged liquor licence from Tilba Tilba to a proposed BWS (Beer Wine Spirits) outlet at Bermagui after many residents protested the move.
Following the consultation process, the authority found the proposal was not in the best interests of the local community.
Residents were concerned about the potential for an additional packaged liquor facility in the town to contribute to alcohol-related harms.