Taking on the alcohol industry Goliath

Sep 6, 2017

The NSW Government has approved every single liquor license put in front of it in the last 8 months. The alcohol industry is in a virtually invincible position when it applies for liquor licenses in NSW.

Listen to Dr John Crozier, who says the NSW system is broken, and needs significant reform to give equal weight to community objections.


Evaluation of community impacts of liquor licenses

Aug 24, 2017

It is evident that current processes for liquor licensing applications are stripping communities of having a voice against the large liquor businesses who are forging their way into local communities.

A series of submissions have been made to the the Liquor and Gaming NSW’s Evaluation of the Community Impact Statement requirement for liquor applications, which you can read here. 

The NSW and ACT Alcohol and Policy Alliance (NAAPA)  has raised serious concerns over the lack of community power in the current liquor licensing processes:

“New South Wales communities are being robbed of the opportunity to object to or complain about liquor licence applications, by an unfair, complex and outdated regulatory system.

In its submission to Liquor and Gaming NSW’s Evaluation of the Community Impact Statement requirement for liquor applications, the state’s leading alcohol policy coalition, the NSW and ACT Alcohol and Policy Alliance (NAAPA) has called for sweeping changes to current liquor licensing processes.

Dr John Crozier, co-chair of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) Committee and Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee says the Community Impact Statement (CIS) requirement for liquor applications should be a requirement for all liquor licence applications, but in its current form, is broken and not fit for purpose.

“NAAPA, and communities across NSW have long argued that the current alcohol licensing processes in this State leave them effectively locked out. Their voices are silenced and their hands tied by a system that unequivocally favours the alcohol industry,” Dr Crozier said.

Among its seven recommendations, NAAPA says the Government must improve public awareness, engagement and community input into these processes, and ensure that community members can have a greater say.

Dr Crozier, a trauma surgeon who has been involved in a number of community efforts to challenge liquor licence applications, argues that one simple and effective way to achieve greater public awareness and community input would be for the Government to broaden its definition of ‘local community’.

“At present, concerned communities and citizens are neither consulted nor made aware of liquor licence applications that will negatively impact them, because they don’t live within 100 metres of the proposed development. That is unfair and unnecessarily restrictive,” Dr Crozier said.

NAAPA has also recommended an important change that would place the onus of proof onto applicants, instead of community objectors.

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education Chief Executive, Michael Thorn says it should be up to the applicant to demonstrate that a liquor licence will not contribute to further harm.

“We need to restore fairness and logic into the current Community Impact Statement system and one of the most effective ways to do so is to place the onus of proof on the party with both the financial interest, as well as the potential to cause harm to the community,” Mr Thorn said.

NAAPA has again repeated its calls for the establishment of an independent Community Defenders Office (CDO) to help individuals and communities navigate and interact with the complex liquor licensing system.

Mr Thorn says the CDO would be modelled on the Alcohol Community Action Project, and would consist of both an advisory service to provide communities with free and timely access to skilled personnel, together with a central information service.

“The establishment of a Community Defenders Office would remove a number of barriers that currently prevent communities from engaging in liquor licensing decisions, providing them with the skills, experience and knowledge they require. The lesson from the Alcohol Community Action Project is there is an unmet demand and need for such a service that can be successfully met with a modest investment by the New South Wales Government,” Mr Thorn said.”

You can download the PDF of NAAPA’s release here. 


Sydney pubs cracking down this Sunday

Aug 21, 2017

The Floyd Mayweather – Conor McGregor fight next Sunday has raised concerns for the likelihood of drunken violence in Sydney’s pubs, with venues in the Eastern suburbs banning the fight altogether. Police have confirmed extra officers will be on duty to cope with the large crowds at pubs across Sydney to minimise the risk of violence. 

“Licensing police in Sydney’s east have warned publicans to serve alcohol only in plastic cups, limit the purchases for each patron and not to serve ‘shots’.”

Read more on The Daily Telegraph.

Wising up to a culture of drink

Aug 21, 2017

Catherine Lambert – The Daily Telegraph

A decade ago, 52 per cent of people were drinking to excess when they socialised, but that number has now dropped to 33 per cent, according to a 10-year study commissioned by DrinkWise.

The social change organisation’s ambassador Dr Andrew Rochford said the message about excessive drinking was finally getting through to the community.

“It’s always been difficult to tackle the huge drinking culture in Australia but people are definitely reporting that they’re moving towards a more healthy relationship with alcohol,” Dr Rochford said.

“It’s really no longer regarded as cool because there is a greater shift towards pursuing a healthy lifestyle among young people in particular.

“They’re more conscious and thoughtful about their choices.”

The research also found 20 per cent of Australians abstain from alcohol altogether, compared to only 11 per cent in 2007. And where and what we are drinking has changed as well, with 63 per cent of people choosing to drink at home while enjoying a meal or barbecue rather than going out.

Matthew Hughes, 29, said his priorities have now changed and weekends are a precious chance to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

“I don’t want to wake up on a Sunday morning on a lounge feeling sorry for myself and unhealthy,” Mr Hughes said.

“I want to wake up during the week feeling fresh so I only ever have a couple of drinks and on the weekend I’m in the gym or out running.

“As I see my friends less because I’m building my career, I want to maximise the times I have with them by talking and enjoying their company.”

Rachel Cox, 24, said her social life is more about attending yoga and pilates classes with friends followed by a healthy breakfast. She said: “I love my healthy, active lifestyle and maximising the days when I’m away from work so I’ll only ever have one or two glasses of wine at a wine bar or a friend’s house.”

Dr Rochford said “it has a flow-on effect’’, adding: “At least there’s a trend towards understanding the impact drinking has on our health.”

Originally published by Catherine Lambert on The Daily Telegraph. 

Northern Territory to take tougher approach on problem drinkers

Aug 18, 2017

The unacceptable levels of alcohol-fuelled violence in the Northern Territory has triggered a tougher approach to problem drinkers who are causing trouble in the community.

“Once the legislation passes, anyone who wants to buy takeaway alcohol in the Territory will have to supply a licence or evidence of age card to be scanned before they’re permitted to proceed with their purchase.”

Read more on ABC Online. 

England to tackle alcohol fuelled crime in Norwich

Aug 7, 2017

Dan Grimmer – Eastern Daily Press

A drive to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime and the harm too much drinking does to the health of people in Norwich is to be stepped up next month.

Amid concern that the number people drinking high-strength beers and ciders on city centre streets, a string of organisations are to join forces to help deal with the problems alcohol can cause.

Earlier this year, Norwich was identified by the government as a place which could benefit from help to cut drink-related crime and disorder.

It was named as a Local Action Alcohol Area, with the promise of dedicated help from Home Office and Public Health experts.

And, next month will see the first meeting of the various organisations which will come up with a plan on what can be done.

Read more on Eastern Daily Press. 

Rome steps up to ban drinking on the streets at night!

Aug 3, 2017

First it was eating and drinking near famous fountains. Now, Rome has made it clear that drinking is no longer welcome – at least, at night time, during the peak tourist season.

Mayor Virginia Raggi has brought in an order outlawing the sale and consumption of alcohol in public places, effective immediately and ending 31 October. The order covers 14 of the Italian capital’s 15 municipi, or areas.

The order, detailed on the city council’s website, bans the consumption of alcohol outdoors and on public transport from midnight to 7am. A ban on drinking from glass bottles comes in earlier, at 10pm.

Read more on Independent Co UK.

Global Alcohol Policy Conference October 2017!

Aug 3, 2017

The Global Alcohol Policy Conference is coming to Melbourne from Wednesday to Friday Oct 4-6.

Further information and registration details here:

‘It’s not ice’: alcohol the real scourge, say doctors

Aug 2, 2017
  • Adam Gartrell, Sydney Morning Herald

Doctors have criticised state and federal governments over their new drug policy blueprint, accusing them of putting too much emphasis on methamphetamine and not enough on a much more damaging and deadly substance: alcohol.

The Australian Medical Association says the recently released National Drug Strategy – which sets out the official approach to preventing and minimising drug harm over the next 10 years – focuses too much on the so-called ‘‘ice epidemic’’.

Ahead of the Wednesday release of a new AMA position paper on substance abuse and behavioural addictions, Michael Gannon, the president of the doctors’ association, has described the government strategy as disappointing. ‘‘[It] again lists methamphetamine as the highest priority substance for Australia, despite the strategy noting that only 1.4 per cent of Australians over the age of 14 had ever tried the drug,’’ Dr Gannon said. ‘‘The strategy also notes that alcohol is associated with 5000 deaths and more than 150,000 hospitalisations each year – yet the strategy puts it as a lower priority than ice.

‘‘The government must focus on those dependencies and addictions that cause the greatest harm, including alcohol, regardless of whether some substances are more socially acceptable than others,’’ Dr Gannon said.

Dr Gannon is also critical that the updated strategy did not come with any new funding commitments from state or federal governments.

The AMA’s new position statement says substance abuse is widespread across Australia, and dependence and addiction often lead to death or disability in patients – yet support and treatment services are ‘‘severely under-resourced’’. It calls for a ‘‘major change in funding priorities from policing and prosecution of substance users to interventions that avoid or reduce use, promote resilience, and reduce societal harms’’.

Read more on the Sydney Morning Herald.

AMA prescribes lockout laws in Darwin

Jul 31, 2017


THE Territory branch of Australia’s doctors’ union is pushing for late-night lockout laws on Darwin’s Mitchell St, arguing similar laws have cut violence in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

In a submission to the government’s alcohol review, Australian Medical Association NT president Associate Professor Rob Parker said violence on Mitchell St resulted in a “similar pattern of damage” to the pre-lockout laws of Kings Cross.

Opponents of the laws – recently relaxed in New South Wales – say they have simply moved drunken violence away from traditional nightspots and have forced the closure of dozens of once-popular venues.

The AMA’s proposal, if accepted by the alcohol review, would clash with current government policy.

Read more on NT News.