Australia: Alcohol Delivery Apps Fuel Harm
As alcohol delivery services spread across Australia, the public health community fears an increase in alcohol harm.
“Jimmy Brings” was one of the first alcohol delivery services which opened up in 2011. Woolworths then bought the start up and currently there are a host of competitive companies in alcohol delivery. Jimmy Brings has since expanded into seven cities, including Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and most recently Perth.
Health experts are concerned about the spread of alcohol delivery and what it means for on demand alcohol.
We know from heaps of research that the more alcohol is available [and] the easier it is to access, the more we [use alcohol], and the more harms we see from alcohol,” said Julia Stafford, a research fellow with Curtin University’s Alcohol Programs Team, as per ABC.
More alcohol in a community means more problems for police, our hospitals, our ambulance service, and our domestic violence services,” added Ms. Stafford.
One of the biggest problems with alcohol delivery is that it is hard to monitor and enforce rules. Intoxicated people or minors can be delivered alcohol. There is no guarantee that IDs are being checked or whether the parcel is left at the door.
I think it’s a huge and unanswered question currently about how you make sure these home delivery services, how they really are going to be monitored and enforced to make sure they are complying with those responsible service of alcohol obligations,” said Ms. Stafford
Attempts to regulate alcohol delivery
Companies in the alcohol delivery business are able to operate within state laws because delivery drivers hold the same Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) credentials as a bartender. This gives them a legal duty of care not to serve intoxicated or underage patrons.
The Western Australia government does not intend to put a stop to the delivery business. However they are planning to tighten the laws surrounding on-demand alcohol. While amending the Liquor Act last year, legislation was added to have the ability to make regulations to govern the delivery of alcohol into the home.
We’re not comfortable [with on-demand alcohol delivery]. That’s why we amended the law,” said Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia, as per ABC.
The question is how will delivery be regulated without any supervision and will regulation guarantee minors do not get alcohol?
According to Bradley Woods WA State Australian Hotels Association CEO, there will be no guarantees. He says unlike in a hotel or a bar where there is manager and police supervision and CCTV surveillance alcohol delivery lacks supervision. Mr. Woods also believes that the easy-to-use alcohol delivery services could trivialize the consumption of alcohol.
Australia and the world has already seen that industry self-regulation does not work and is not effective to curb alcohol harm.
What Australia needs is independent statutory regulation of the alcohol industry to achieve reductions in alcohol availability and affordability as well as marketing – and related harms. Considering that the alcohol industry was found to manipulate the National Alcohol Strategy (NAS) while in preparation, the Australian government needs to take strong action to reduce such influence and create an independent policy to protect the people.