Drink Tank

When enough is enough

Responsible alcohol consumption is not a problem. Alcohol has been a part of the Australian culture since rum was the currency in the first years of colonial settlement. However, when drinking to get drunk becomes the norm for a lot of people, the individual and the community has a problem.

A survey by the Victorian Department of Health, released in 2012, has shown 51.9 percent of adult Victorian males and 38.2 percent of Victorian females put themselves at risk of harm due to their drinking at some time.

This is far worse in regional Victoria. 61.1 per cent of males consumed enough alcohol to put themselves at short-term risk of alcohol-related harm. Given the rates of drink fuelled domestic violence, street violence, accidents on the roads and at work and health impacts, you have to ask when enough is enough.

There is even a new and rather pathetic social media fad called a “neknomination” where one person skulls an alcoholic drink then challenges friends to do the same. Not exactly something to be proud of. It is also not helping when multi-national supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths have cheap alcohol advertised on the bottom of every receipt you get after shopping there.

It is time to become a nation of responsible drinkers and the NSW Government with their recent changes of laws is a fantastic start. The alcohol industry is all powerful and targets young women and girls in particular. Sadly these young female drinkers often go on giving birth to brain damaged babies because they drink during pregnancy.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is now the biggest cause of brain damage in newborns in Australia. The damage is permanent but it is 100 percent preventable. When innocent young lives are also lost because a drunken fool punches them on the street, where the high risk drinker hurts so many others around them, it has to be time to say enough is enough.

Sharman Stone

Sharman Stone

Dr Sharman Stone has been the Federal Member for Murray since 1996. Before entering Federal Parliament, Sharman was the Manager of International Development at the University of Melbourne. Sharman holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in anthropology from Monash University, a Master of Arts in sociology from La Trobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education. She also holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in economics and business from Monash University. Since entering Federal Parliament, Dr Stone has pursued a wide range of social, regional and indigenous issues.

1 comment

  • Agree that drinking alcohol is nothing to be proud of.

    However to properly address the harms caused by alcohol society will need to move away from the ‘responsible drinking is not a problem’ notion.

    In reality, the more ‘responsible’ drinking there is, the greater the likelihood of ‘irresponsible’ drinking by some individuals, whether accidentally because they misjudge, miscalculate or misunderstand the volume of their drink or the percentage of alcohol it contains, or otherwise.

    That’s a problem.

    Also the notion that alcohol is a fixed part of Australian society isn’t really true. The amount of alcohol consumed per capita has varied considerably over time, e.g. it was much lower during the depression.

    There needs to be more emphasis on having alcohol free events so that over time the culture will change and the level of risk will reduce. Employers, parents and anyone involved in staging events should be taking the lead on this.

    Alcohol should also be regulated in the same way as tobacco – I think we’d all prefer that an oncoming driver was smoking a cigarette than affected by alcohol. The more ads for booze, the greater the risk for everyone.

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