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Open letter: Action on alcohol must be part of discussions for National Cabinet on men’s violence against women

Dear Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers,

We are writing to you to implore you to include alcohol harm reduction measures as part of actions to prevent violence against women and children. 

We welcome the ongoing focus by governments across Australia and the identified need to take immediate action to prevent more women and children from dying or being harmed. 

It is our view as the leaders of community, health and Aboriginal organisations that if we are going to prevent family violence, we need to ensure that better regulating alcohol is part of the suite of measures that are adopted. 

We support the recommendation made in the recent White Paper on Primary Prevention released by Jess Hill and Professor Michael Salter that outlines that governments need to address the commercial determinants of violence – including alcohol.  

As Ms Hill and Professor Salter say in the White Paper ‘Violence prevention frameworks around gender-based violence in Australia have been reluctant to tackle wealthy industries that are profiting from violence against women, such as pornography and the technology sector, and the multi-billion dollar alcohol and gambling industries.’ 

The data clearly demonstrates that alcohol is a significant contributor to family violence, with alcohol involved in between 23 and 65 per cent of all family violence incidents reported by police.   

The use of alcohol by perpetrators of violence also increases the severity of family violence, leading to higher rates of physical violence and injury. 

Alcohol sales are also targeted at people who drink the most alcohol, with companies selling 36 per cent of alcohol to 5 per cent of people, placing people at greater risk of harm. 

Acknowledging the harmful role of alcohol in family violence is an important part of this wider effort to keep women and children safe.  

Australian evidence shows that the increased density of alcohol outlets, particularly packaged liquor outlets like bottle-shops, increases rates of family violence. A further study in New South Wales found that the extension to takeaway alcohol sales from a 10pm close to an 11pm close resulted in a statistically significant increase in domestic violence assaults, equating to 1,120 family violence assaults occurring in the 38-months after trading hours were extended. 

The explosion of the often-unregulated online sale and delivery of alcohol, making every phone a bottleshop, is also increasing the risk of violence. The rapid delivery of alcohol into homes in as little as 30 minutes is further exacerbating these harms. 

Common sense measures to regulate alcohol need to be part of the package of actions introduced to prevent violence against women and children. These measures include: 

  • Including the prevention of gender based and family violence as a primary object of the liquor acts in each state and territory 
  • Ensuring that alcohol is not sold by delivery and take-away after 10pm 
  • Introducing a safety pause for the delivery of alcohol of 2 hours between when alcohol is ordered and delivered  
  • Regulating the density of alcohol outlets 
  • Addressing predatory and high-risk marketing that pushes bulk alcohol sales, including data driven marketing.

We can no longer ignore the role that alcohol plays in increasing the risk and severity of violence against women and children.  

Yours sincerely, 

Caterina Giorgi 
Chief Executive Officer 
Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education  

Professor Jacqueline Bowden 
National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction 

Kym Valentine 
Survivor Advocate 

Dr Erin Lalor AM 
Chief Executive Officer 
Alcohol and Drug Foundation 

Shanna Whan 
Founder/Chief Executive Officer 
Sober In the Country 

Mrs Nicole Hewlett 
Project Manager  
The University of Queensland

Anita Mills 
Chief Executive Officer 
Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA) 

Professor Nicole Lee 
Chief Executive Officer 
Hello Sunday Morning 

Ms Hannah Pierce 
Executive Officer 
Alcohol Change Australia 

Michael White 
Executive Officer 
SA Network of Drug and Alcohol Services (SANDAS) 

Professor Dan Lubman AM 
Turning Point 

Louise Gray 
Chief Executive Officer 
NOFASD Australia 

Dr Cassandra Wright 
Senior Research Fellow 
Menzies School of Health Research 

Adj Prof Terry Slevin 
Chief Executive Officer 
Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) 

Scott Wilson 
Chief Executive Officer 
Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council South Australia  

Clare Davies 
Chief Executive Officer 

Mark Powell 
Chief Executive Officer 
WRAD Health 

Chris Christoforou 
Chief Executive Officer 
Victorian Alcohol & Drug Association 

Professor Simone Pettigrew 
Program Director 
The George Institute for Global Health 

Donna Ah Chee 
Chief Executive Officer 
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress 

A/Prof Kerin Fielding
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons

Trauma Committee 
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 

Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM FAHMS FRSN 
Distinguished Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health  
University of Sydney and Head, NSW Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Assessment Service 

Adj Prof John Boffa  
People’s Action Alcohol Coalition 

Dr John Paterson
Chief Executive Officer
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory

Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA
Acting CEO
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Professor Robin Room
Distinguished Professor, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research
La Trobe University

Dr Adam Searby

Rob McPhee
Danila Dilba Health Service

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