The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a catalyst for turbulence in Australia. Uncertainty has confronted the Australian population through waves of social isolation as a result of Government restrictions which raised concerns for health, mental wellbeing, and financial stability. As a result, risky alcohol use has increased for some Australians. Many people have been impacted by alcohol harms, such as adverse mental health and family violence. Aggressive marketing and profit-making by alcohol companies during the pandemic has also proven to be an obstacle in protecting the health and wellbeing of Australians during this time.
FARE’s 2020 report on Alcohol use and harm during COVID-19 provided a snapshot of alcohol use and harm in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. It captured the emerging evidence so the Australian community could grasp how the pandemic impacts were unfolding. This current report follows the 2020 report, drawing upon the evidence that has emerged in the past two years since COVID-19 reached Australia.
With Australia now well into the third year of this pandemic, there is clear evidence on the growing harms from alcohol. The report found:
- High levels of stress and anxiety, as well as boredom and isolation, have been identified as key drivers of risky alcohol use during the pandemic
- Studies have also found child care pressures and employment instability were drivers of increased alcohol use
- Increases in alcohol-related deaths and soaring demand for support services