December 11, 2019

National Alcohol Strategy explained

Alcohol can production

The Australian Government has released a new strategy to address alcohol-related harms in Australian communities. These harms include violence, disease, injuries, road deaths and an estimated 4,000 alcohol-attributable deaths per year1.

The new National Alcohol Strategy, which sits as a sub-strategy under the National Drug Strategy 2017-2026, is the result of years of consultation with a wide range of stakeholders.

Setting a shared direction for action on alcohol

The purpose of the new National Alcohol Strategy 2019-2028 is to create a shared approach to reduce the harms from alcohol across Australia. The four priority areas highlighted for action are:

  1. Improving community safety and amenity
  2. Managing alcohol availability, price and promotion
  3. Supporting individuals to obtain help and systems to respond
  4. Promoting healthier communities.

The strategy provides policy options for each level of government.

Each level of government can then consider which policies should be adopted in their jurisdiction based on their specific needs.

What local governments can do

Policy options that local governments can adopt under the National Alcohol Strategy are:

  • support citizens to declare their homes ‘alcohol-free’
  • improve community stakeholders’ ability to influence liquor licensing decisions.

What state and territory governments can do

Examples of policy options that state and territory governments could adopt under the strategy are:

  • put in place rules about using plastic drinking vessels in some venues instead of glass
  • set policy around restrictions on last drinks and serving restrictions
  • improve public transport access
  • assist communities that want to be ‘dry’
  • designate alcohol-free areas
  • support local governments and venues to implement ‘Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)’ strategies
  • set a minimum floor price for alcohol.

What the Australian Government can do

Examples of policy options that the Australian Government could adopt under the strategy are:

  • invest alcohol tax revenue into prevention and treatment
  • change alcohol taxation policy
  • expand the advertising code to include all types of media
  • implement warning labels on alcohol products.

Shared responsibilities

Examples of policy options that are shared responsibilities under the National Alcohol Strategy are:

  • explore more strategies to prevent drink driving and alcohol-fuelled violence
  • increase awareness of secondary supply laws
  • raise awareness about the health risks of alcohol
  • invest more into treatment services.

What happens next?

There are many policy options in the National Alcohol Strategy, especially shared responsibilities.

Whether they are now implemented depends on the relevant government. Progress of the strategy’s recommendations will be measured in order to develop more evidence-informed policies and strategies and to track progress towards reducing alcohol-related harm in Australia.

The release of the new National Alcohol Strategy means that all levels of government are empowered to take coordinated action to reduce the harms from alcohol in Australia.

If you would like to read the National Alcohol Strategy, it can be found on the Australian Government's website.

  1. Commonwealth of Australia Department of Health. National Alcohol Strategy 2019-2028. Canberra; 2019.

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