Alcohol in Australia
||It has been suggested that Binge drinking in Australia be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since October 2015.|
||It has been suggested that Drinking culture in Australia be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since December 2015.|
Alcohol is commonly consumed and available at pubs and liquor stores in Australia – all of which are private enterprises. Spirits can be purchased at liquor stores and pubs, whereas grocery stores do not sell them, although they have on their premises separate liquor stores. Alcohol consumption is lower, according to WHO studies, than most European countries and several Central Asian and African countries, although consumption is higher in Australia than in North America. After tobacco, alcohol is the second leading preventable cause of death and hospitalisation in Australia.
Heavy drinking in Australia was a cultural norm since colonisation. For a period, convicts in Australia were partially paid with rum. The distribution of rum amongst the New South Wales Corps led to the only successful armed takeover of an Australian government, which later became known as the Rum Rebellion of 1808.
In the 1830s, the Temperance Movement gained a following in the colony. Its influence peaked during World War I and the Great Depression. Alcohol sales were prohibited in the Australian Capital Territory between 1910 and 1928. Four referendums regarding the prohibition of alcohol were conducted in Western Australia, including one in each of the years 1911, 1921, 1925 and 1950. In 1837, laws were passed to prevent Aboriginal access to alcohol as binge drinking became problematic.
An attempt to prohibit alcohol on the Victorian Goldfields was made in 1852. This was the main factor leading to the growth in sly-grog shops. In a failed attempt to reduce the effects of alcohol on society, all liquor establishments were forced to close by 6 pm from the 1910s to the 1960s. Rather than reduce alcohol consumption, the measures led to excessive drinking in the hour before closing time which became known as the six o'clock swill. In the decade after World War II there was a step rise in the consumption of beer in Australia. Since the 1960s the popularity of beer has declined while wine consumption increased.
The consumption of alcohol increased from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s when it began to decline until it reached a consumption level commensurate with 1961 in 2003. Consumption peaked in 1974 and 1975 when an average of 13.09 litres of pure alcohol was consumed.
In March 1965, Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bogner secured themselves to the foot rail of Brisbane's Regatta Hotel with a dog chain to protest laws excluding them, as women, from drinking with men at public bars. In 1965, a South Australian winemaker Thomas Angove, invented the box wine or wine cask. The following four decades saw an increase in per capita wine consumption and a decrease in beer drinking. However the market value of beer sales increased as the sales of up-market or boutique beers gained in popularity.
In 2005, Queensland introduced a lockout trial in order to reduce alcohol-related violence at three entertainment precincts which saw patrons barred from re-entering a licensed venue after 3 am. Victoria introduced a similar initiative known as the 2am Lockout in 2008. The 2010 Melbourne live music rally was a public rally to protest the claimed effects of liquor licensing laws on live music in the city.
Production and consumption
Alcohol is widely consumed in Australia as it is frequently available at social and cultural activities. On a per capita scale, 10.3 litres of pure alcohol were consumed by each Australian in 2010. The average amongst OECD countries was 9.1 litres. Beer was the most preferred beverage, followed by wine, spirits and pre-mixed beverages. Retail sales for alcohol including GST in the 2011/12 financial year totalled A$18,135 million. In 2012, XXXX Gold was Australia's top-selling as measured by the volume of sales.
In 2010, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that 7.2% of the Australian population drank alcohol each day. Males were found to drink on daily basis at twice the rate of females and were more likely to drink quantities which posed a health risk. One recent survey of teenagers in Australia has shown a decrease in binge drinking across the age group since 2005. Another survey in Victoria revealed drinking rates were increasing for young people despite it being illegal. In 2010, 18- to 29-year-olds were the age group most likely to drink at harmful levels.
There are numerous factors that contribute to the rate of alcohol consumption in rural Australia. Studies have found a variety of economic and social factors result in a higher rate of alcohol consumption. Economically, factors such as lower income, level of education, lack of infrastructure, and a higher availability of alcohol are all known to affect alcohol consumption rates. Social factors also play a large role with the normality and social acceptability of alcohol consumption in rural areas often leading to drinking beginning at a much younger age. Gender has also been found to play a large role in rural communities, with a sense of masculinity seen to heavily influence people.
Indigenous alcohol consumption
Statistics show that the rate of binge drinking in rural areas is 5% higher for indigenous Australians when compared to the non-indigenous, and it was also found that indigenous Australians were twice as likely to consume alcohol dangerously in the short term at least once a week. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that the rate of alcohol abstention for both male and female indigenous Australians was much higher than non-indigenous Australians, sitting at 1.7 and 1.4 times more respectively. While the rate of alcohol abstention is high, the rate of both short and long term risky drinking in indigenous Australians causes some concern.
Indigenous Australians were prohibited from buying alcohol until the end of the 1960s. The repeal of this legislation saw a rapid increase in indigenous alcohol consumption and contributed to many of the problems faced by indigenous Australians today. In recent years, efforts have been made to try and curb indigenous drinking, with the Queensland government, in association with rural indigenous communities, setting up Alcohol Management Plans (AMPs). AMP’s were first introduced in Australia in 2002, and have been adopted throughout a number of states. More recently, AMP’s have been introduced into 19 communities in rural Queensland to attempt to control alcohol-fuelled violence. The plans either restrict the type and amount of alcohol that can be purchased in a town, or involve a blanket ban on alcohol sales.
There has been a noticeable decrease in alcohol fuelled violence and dysfunction in the communities that have faced alcohol bans and restrictions. In 2012 the newly elected Queensland state government, under premier Campbell Newman, proposed a winding back of the alcohol restrictions, a number of aboriginal elders and community leaders opposed these changes, citing the positive benefits brought about by the laws. Despite the many positives that alcohol bans have brought to indigenous communities, issues with alcohol consumption still exist, mainly the issue of home brewed alcohol. Home brew alcohol is commonplace in many of the indigenous communities where alcohol has been banned, with recent reports also calling for a ban of popular spread vegemite, because of its reported use in the manufacturing of alcohol in some northern territory communities.
In 2007, it was reported that $128 million was spent on alcohol advertising in Australia.
The Australian Medical Association claims young people in Australia are being exposed to an unprecedented level of alcohol marketing. While there are no alcohol advertising bans in Australia some restrictions and conditions apply. There are no restrictions on the sponsorship of youth and sport events in Australia.
Legislation and guidelines
The age limit for the purchase of alcoholic products in Australia is 18. A license to both produce and sell alcohol is required. Alcohol products in Australia contain warnings against drinking whilst pregnant. Guidelines for alcohol use are made by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The body recommends no more than two standards drinks per day to avoid life-time risk of harm from an alcohol-related injury or disease.
Queensland has introduced alcohol restrictions as part of the state's Alcohol Management Plans in 19 separate Indigenous communities.
Violence and harm
Alcohol abuse in Australia is associated with violence, drink driving, child neglect and abuse as well as absenteeism in the workplace. Alcohol is second to tobacco as the cause of preventable death and hospitalistion in Australia. According to a report released by VicHealth and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education in 2014, an average of 15 Australians die each day due to alcohol, an increase of 62% within a decade. One recent estimate of the total cost of alcohol-related crime put the figure at $1.7 billion.
According to the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey just over 8% of Australian adults reported being the victim of an alcohol-related assault. Between 2004 and 2008, Indigenous Australians died from disorders due to alcohol at a rate seven times greater than non-Indigenous Australians. Estimates obtained from police data show 70,000 Australians were the victim of an alcohol-related assault in 2005. Research has indicated about 10% of police time is devoted to dealing with incidents related to alcohol.
In an effort to reduce alcohol intoxication by teenagers during schoolies week liquor retailers have had to hire extra security staff at popular schoolies locations. Parents supplying alcohol to minors in an unsupervised environment may incur penalties of up to $8,800 in Queensland.
The Australian Hotels Association represents hoteliers around Australia. It was established in 1839. The Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand was set up to advocate on behalf of brewers in both countries.
Drinkwise is an industry funded organisation that funds alcohol-related research and conducts public education activities. Ocsober is an Australian fundraising initiative that encourages people to give up alcohol for the month of October.
- Australian pub
- Australian wine
- Beer in Australia
- Australian whisky
- List of countries by alcohol consumption
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Media related to Statistics about alcohol in Australia at Wikimedia Commons