The paper begins by outlining some of the key terms used in relation to
alcohol (section 2: pp 1-5). It then examines the role alcohol has played in
Australian society, both historically and currently (section 3: pp 5-12). This
is to highlight how certain drinking behaviours became established in
Australian culture and how various meanings came to be attributed to its
consumption. It notes the current drinking behaviour of Australians and the
costs and benefits associated with the consumption of alcohol.
Section 4 (pp 12-16) outlines the size of alcohol-related problems. Alcohol
abuse is a major cause of drug-related death, second only to tobacco.
Statistics are provided on the number of Australians who misuse alcohol, the
health issues that flow from this, and its effect on the number of road
accidents and industry productivity.
Alcohol-related problems are further explored in section 5 (pp 16-23). The
health implications of alcohol abuse, and the links between alcohol, other
drugs, violence and homelessness are considered. The impact of alcohol misuse
in the home and on the roads is noted.
The demographics of alcohol abuse are discussed in section 6 (pp 23-32) as
the misuse of alcohol impacts on sectors of the community in different ways.
This section considers the various experiences of alcohol in terms of age and
gender. Particular groups mentioned include Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islanders, rural and urban regions, expectant mothers, the mentally ill and
Section 7 (pp 32-66) outlines the strategies that have been developed to
counteract the extent of alcohol-related harm in the community. It classifies
them according to categories developed by the National Alcohol Strategy. They
include: informing the community, protecting those at higher risk, preventing
alcohol-related harm in young people, improving the effectiveness of
legislation and regulatory initiatives, responsible marketing and provision of
alcohol, pricing and taxation, promoting safer drinking environments, drink
driving and related issues, intervention by health professionals, workforce
development, and research and evaluation. Strategies that have been adopted to
reduce alcohol related harm in general are also noted.
APPENDIX B traces the history of liquor regulation in New South Wales.