National election platform: Protecting families from harm

FARE promotes policies that foster safer, healthier communities.

With a federal election looming in May, FARE’s 2019 Election Platform outlined four key areas for the incoming government to prioritise to reduce alcohol harm. These included:

  • Informing consumers about the long-term health effects of drinking alcohol
  • Preventing lifelong disability by stopping alcohol use during pregnancy
  • Reducing alcohol-fuelled family violence through actions that address alcohol as a risk factor
  • Protecting children and young people from alcohol advertising.

As a complementary activity, FARE recognised the opportunity and importance of informing voters on party positions on alcohol policy, providing relevant, cut-through information during a time that political coverage and the already tumultuous media cycle reaches peak frenzy.

Ahead of the 2019 Federal Election, FARE wrote to major political parties to identify where they stood on key alcohol policy measures aimed at protecting Australians from alcohol harm and creating safer, healthier communities.

Stopping alcohol harm in the Northern Territory

The introduction of historic alcohol policy reform in the NT was critical. Now the defence of those measures is vital.

The Northern Territory already has the highest rates of alcohol-related death and hospitalisations in Australia, to the extent that if the NT was a country it would be in the top ten alcohol-using nations on the planet.

That’s why FARE is standing shoulder to shoulder with communities in the NT to resist the introduction of a big box liquor store into the area.  

Through a combination of legal proceedings, advocacy, social media and commentary, FARE has maintained pressure as the NT Liquor Commission considers Woolworths’ application to establish a Dan Murphy’s alcohol superstore in Darwin. 

The Commission’s public hearing on Woolworths’ licence application was conducted over five days in June, with a decision expected to be announced in September 2019.  

FARE and co-objectors argued that introducing packaged liquor barns in the NT would undermine the NT Government’s alcohol reforms, including the Minimum Unit Price, as it would lead to increased alcohol consumption and greater risk of alcohol-fuelled harm, especially in vulnerable communities. 

During the legal process, the Commission was provided with comprehensive evidence regarding alcohol harm, including research showing that every time a big-box liquor barn is built there is a 35 per cent increase in harm to that community, including bashings, stabbings, shootings and injuries.

Keeping country communities safe

Highlighting the disproportionate level of alcohol-related harm in rural NSW.

With 2019 being an election year, NSW alcohol policy has been a priority focus for FARE and the NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA). The challenge has been that while the major parties were strongly posturing on drug policy, the state’s most harmful drug, alcohol, was given little attention. 

NAAPA warned that all parties were focused on illegal substances, prescription drugs and pill testing, while continuing to fail in their duty of care to address the harm from alcohol.  

What did catch the attention of the media was the disproportionate level of alcohol-related harm in rural NSW, and the associated issues of drought, isolation and lack of services. 

In rural communities, domestic assaults are 12-times higher compared to NSW as a whole, while alcohol is a factor in 85 per cent of rural road crash fatalities compared to 17 per cent in major NSW cities.