As FARE approaches its 20 year anniversary, the organisation’s role in informing health policy and making consumers aware of the risks of alcohol has never been more critical. In a society where some age groups are consuming less, there is still a mounting toll of alcohol-related death, disease and injury.
FARE is the only national public health body which is dedicated to this work. With alcohol remaining Australia’s number one drug of concern, the burden of alcohol harm needs to be the most important marker for policy settings to safeguard the public interest.
To achieve its vision of stopping harm caused by alcohol, and to deliver on its strategic goals, FARE continues to evolve and adapt. It anticipates and addresses the drivers of alcohol-related harm in its policies; advocating on significant national and state/territory issues in relation to the availability, price and promotion of alcohol. Alcoholic beverages have never been cheaper, more readily accessible, or more aggressively promoted, particularly to children, through disruptive innovation.
In 2019, the FARE Board reviewed and reaffirmed the Strategic Plan 2017-22. That plan recognises that alcohol is no ordinary commodity. That is why FARE remains steadfast in its efforts to address the magnitude of alcohol-related harm at a population level.
The use of alcoholic products results in a heavy social toll, with almost 6,000 deaths and 144,000 hospitalisations annually attributable to alcohol. The community-wide cost of alcohol approximates $36 billion every year in health care, public safety, policing, courts and lost productivity in the workplace.
FARE’s public-facing priorities include highlighting the increasing normalisation of alcohol into society, which is consistently promoted by the alcohol industry. It includes bringing the growing burden of alcohol-related harm into sharper focus, through evidence-based research. It encompasses building community support for cultural change in the way that people perceive and use alcohol. Finally, FARE will continue to advocate the case for strengthening alcohol regulation.
The Board is pleased to report that FARE has achieved many successful outcomes during the year that contribute to stopping harm caused by alcohol. These efforts are proudly showcased in this online Annual Report. However, much work remains to be done.
Andrew Fairley AM