Enough is Enough Survey Highlights Need to Change Australia's Drinking Culture

By Petrina Smith
Thursday, 06 November, 2014

Responding to the release of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine's (ACEM) Enough is Enough Survey, AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, says the Federal Government needs to work to change Australia's drinking culture.
The Enough is Enough survey of alcohol harm in hospital emergency departments included input from more than 2000 emergency department doctors and nurses in Australia and New Zealand about their experiences with drunk patients.
A/Prof Owler said the survey results are disturbing, and illustrate the strain that alcohol-related behaviour and violence imposes on stressed hospital staff and resources, and the economic burden placed on the Australian health system.
“Emergency department workers have had enough of dealing with drunks being violent, disorderly, and offensive, and physically harming staff and other patients,” A/Prof Owler said.
“A significant proportion of emergency department resources provide life-saving care to people who have consumed too much alcohol, or people who have been harmed by people who have consumed too much alcohol.
“If we can change the drinking culture to promote more responsible use of alcohol in the community, we will have fewer drunks and people injured by drunks in our emergency departments.”
A/Prof Owler said that initiatives to address alcohol-related harms in the Australian community were discussed at last week’s AMA National Alcohol Summit in Canberra.
“There is an urgent need in Australia for a whole-of-government strategy to coordinate and drive action to address alcohol related harms,” A/Prof Owler said.
“Excessive alcohol consumption is having a widespread impact on our community and our health.
“Seventy nine per cent of Australians – 18.5 million people – have serious concerns with our drinking culture.
“We are calling on the Government to invest more in public education and campaigns, and to regulate the way that alcohol is advertised and marketed, especially in sport and to young people. "One of the simplest and most cost-effective changes is to mandate labelling on alcohol products.
“The Australian Government must provide leadership to address the significant health and social impacts of alcohol misuse and abuse.
“More than half of Australian drinkers consume alcohol in excess of the recommended intake, and one in five Australians drink alcohol at a level that puts them at risk of lifetime harm from injury or disease.
“The health, social, and economic burden caused by alcohol in Australia is substantial and unacceptable. Alcohol-related violence, chronic disease, accidents, and deaths occur frequently.  “These incidents harm not only the individual drinker, but also families, bystanders, and the wider community.
“We need a National Alcohol Strategy to take a multi-pronged approach to stamping out the culture of excessive alcohol consumption in Australian society,” A/Prof Owler said.
The AMA National Alcohol Summit Communique is available at https://ama.com.au/media/ama-national-alcohol-summit-communique
All the presentations and details of the recent AMA National Alcohol Summit are available at https://ama.com.au/alcoholsummit

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