The Federal Government has said that the 2019 – 2028 National Alcohol Strategy (NAS) has been agreed by all states and territories and that it sets out four national priority areas.
Those priority areas are:
- Improving community safety by introducing safer drinking environments, reducing injury and violence, and improving treatment.
- Improving management of the availability, price and promotion of alcohol.
- Ensuring people have access to treatment, information and support services.
- Improving awareness of how alcohol-related harm impacts the Australian community.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said that the NAS is in line with global initiatives and that there are no plans to change Australia’s alcohol taxation system, staying away from Federally-enforced minimum unit pricing on alcohol.
“The Strategy reiterates Australia’s commitment to the World Health Organisation Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2013–2020, which includes a voluntary target to reduce harmful alcohol consumption by at least 10 per cent,” the Minister said.
“The Report acknowledges that Australia’s levels of alcohol taxation is already in the top third of countries within the OECD.
“The Morrison Government considers Australia’s current alcohol taxation setting are appropriate and has no plans to make any changes.
“As noted in the Strategy other pricing mechanisms such as a Minimum Unit Price on alcohol are a matter for the States and Territories.”
Hunt added that the Government will also commission a report to estimate the social costs of alcohol to Australian society for the first time in 15 years.
Speaking about the NAS release, the CEO of Alcohol Beverages Australia, Andrew Wilsmore said that the industry was fighting to the harmful use of alcohol and was working to help improve the health of Australians and reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms and Non-Communicable Diseases.
He said that the release of the NAS presents a unique opportunity for industry, governments, and concerned health bodies to work cooperatively with each other to combat harmful drinking.
“We want a culture in which our products are only consumed responsibly (by those that choose to consume them), so that drinking and selling them is always a positive experience,” said Wilsmore.
“We have an obligation to promote responsible drinking, and a duty to deliver a better and more sustainable future for all.
“With all indicators of harm trending down and per capita consumption at 50-year lows, it is important that targeted solutions are favoured over population-wide measures that penalise the majority of responsible drinkers.
“The industry has done a lot of heavy lifting in improving Australia’s drinking culture, including the annual funding of multi-million dollar cultural change programs, the voluntary labelling of pregnancy warnings and standard drinks pictograms, and a wide range of targeted programs that have real-world success in changing the drinking behaviours of at-risk groups.
“The National Alcohol Strategy underscores the importance of continuing these initiatives and building on them further to help achieve the ambitious target of a 10 per cent reduction in harmful alcohol consumption.
“While the Strategy rightly focuses on the harms associated with alcohol, it is important for Governments and policy makers to not lose sight of the fact that most Australian enjoy a drink responsibly as part of normal Australian life.”
Wilsmore added: “When consumed responsibly, a beer, wine, spirit or cocktail helps bring people together to socialise and enjoy conviviality. It supports the livelihoods of close to 600,000 Australians, contributes $160m in economic output, and puts $6.1bn in taxes into helping pay for vital Government services.”
The Government is also investing $140m to support frontline services for Australians battling alcohol and drug issues, along with targeted research to inform policies and activities.
Free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services, is available through the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 and 24/7 counselling online at counsellingonline.org.au.