Responding to the burden of alcohol harm

In this video interview, Professor Peter Miller of Violence Prevention and Addiction Studies, at Deakin University School of Psychology, shares about the effectiveness of various interventions in reducing alcohol-related harm.

Professor Miller and a team of colleagues have conducted studies on night-life in 10 cities, and night-life interviews with over 22,000 people – in an attempt to solicit a multifaceted and multilayered understanding of what happens when interventions (such as the Queensland alcohol trading restrictions) come into play.

As the lead researcher in the evaluation of the last drinks measures introduced in Queensland, Professor Miller says the evaluation doesn’t only look at police assaults and hospital admissions, but also looks at patron intoxication on the streets, observations inside venues, as well as what is happening in the live music industry.

We pay a huge amount as a society when someone is harmed, and we pay a huge tax burden in terms of our emergency services and the drain on them from people going out very late at night and getting very intoxicated. The question is, what are the right harm reduction measures, and how far do we go in terms of reducing harm versus impinging on people’s entertainment.

The evidence has been strong, but we need better evidence, and these interventions are critical in terms of ensuring that young people can go out and engage in socialisation.

Professor Miller’s message to politicians in Queensland is that cultural change doesn’t happen overnight:

Stick with the measures; it takes time for culture change. This is far quicker than anything the alcohol industry is talking about. We’re seeing positive signs, but we need time to see culture change.

Professor Miller also believes that it’s time to review alcohol labelling in Australia and better educate citizens about the risks of alcohol.

We really need to be looking at why people don’t know about the risks of alcohol in relation to cancer, in relation to a lot of diseases. Our government has engaged in comprehensive, long-term systematic regulatory failure… It’s their job to tell us about health, and they need to do a far better job.


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