Australia's toxic drinking culture exposed


A national poll reveals one-third of Australians have been affected by alcohol-related violence, many of them children.

Australia has a problem with excessive drinking and most people believe alcohol is linked to domestic violence, a national poll shows.

The Annual alcohol poll of 2017 commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) also found one-third of Australians have been affected by alcohol-related violence.

FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said one in five Australian children, or about a million each year, are harmed as a result of someone else's drinking.

"It's a damning indictment of this country's toxic relationship with alcohol when we have more than a third of Australians affected by alcohol-related violence," he said.

"These troubling findings are really a reflection of the extent of alcohol harm in Australia; the 15 lives lost and 430 hospitalisations caused by alcohol every single day."

But the alcohol industry has rejected the figures, labelling the poll a "sensationalist dud".

Fergus Taylor, Executive Director of Alcohol Beverages Australia says FARE's claims lack evidence.

"This poll is all spin and no substance," he said.

The poll shows 78 per cent of Australians believe excess drinking is a problem, and 92 per cent say alcohol is linked to domestic violence.

Mr Thorn says it's time governments stop ignoring alcohol's contribution to family violence, which is what they have been doing by making access to alcohol easier, with more outlets and lower prices.

"Governments have deliberately turned a deaf ear to this aspect of the family violence crisis we have in the nation," he says.

But Mr Fergus said the vast majority of Australians use alcohol responsibly and in moderation, citing Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows binge drinking has been in steady decline for more than a decade.

"And violence is also significantly trending downwards Australia-wide," Mr Taylor said.

Alcohol 'doesn't create domestic violence'

Support services have also raised concerns about the study's claim that 92 per cent of respondents think there's a link between alcohol and family and domestic violence.

Karen Willis from Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia stressed while alcohol can reduce inhibitions in people, it doesn't create domestic violence.

"People who've never touched a drink in their lives doesn't mean that they'll use violence in their relationship, and people who are drunks, it doesn't necessarily mean they'll be violent to everyone around them," she said.

"It's a factor in increasing the levels of violence, it doesn't create it to start with."

Ms Willis said about 80 per cent of domestic violence is emotional rather than physical.

Readers seeking support and information can contact 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732

Other key findings

- 35 per cent of Australians have been affected by alcohol-related violence

- 21 per cent of parents of children under the age of 18 years report their child has been harmed or put at risk of harm because of someone else's drinking

- 44 per cent consume alcohol to get drunk

- 78 per cent believe Australia has a problem with excess drinking

- 81 per cent believe more needs to be done to reduce alcohol-related harm

- 68 per cent support a ban on alcohol advertising on TV before 8.30pm.

Source AAP, SBS News

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