Australia: Alcohol Policy Reduces Hospitalizations
Comprehensive alcohol policy solutions have significantly reduced alcohol-related hospitalizations and violence in the Northern Territory of Australia. Australia’s first Minimum Unit Price (MUP) on alcohol has been instituted in NT, along with a comprehensive program of alcohol policy reforms including many of the 200-plus recommendations contained in the Review of alcohol policies and legislation (the Riley Review) headed by former Chief Justice Trevor Riley.
Due to the policy changes the Territory has seen a massive reduction in alcohol harm including reduced hospitalizations, violence and people entering sobering up centres.
The Northern Territory is on a road trip to alcohol-harm reform.
The one-year anniversary of the introduction of Australia’s first Minimum Unit Price is an opportunity to report on key successes of the NT Government’s alcohol-harm minimisation plan.
— FARE (@FAREAustralia) October 18, 2019
Data released by the NT government shows:
- Alcohol related hospitalizations have dropped by one third in Alice Springs Emergency Department.
- There is a sustained drop in alcohol-related assaults and domestic violence of more than 40%.
- Protective custody episodes in Alice Springs are down 63% for the year ending June.
FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn says alcohol harm is the single biggest issue facing the Territory and data on the reforms is now beginning to paint a clearer picture of success in building safer and healthier communities.
The biggest improvement is in Alice which has had measures in place for the longest time, with a 43% drop in alcohol-related assaults and a 38% reduction in family violence,” Mr Thorn said, in a press release.
The director of the Alice hospital’s emergency department, Dr Stephen Gourley says women coming in with defensive fractures which was common before is almost unseen now.
Alcohol policy impact in NT
NT police data shows that alcohol-related assaults in the Territory are at their lowest level in the last ten years, running at 20% below the long term average. Comparing the period October 1, 2017 to July 31, 2018 (prior to the implementation of the MUP) and October 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019 (following the MUP’s implementation), there has been a:
- 26% reduction in alcohol-related total assaults,
- 21% reduction in alcohol-related domestic violence.
A new report analyzing the data shows that the biggest effect has been seen in the locations where the most measures have been in place for the longest period. Thus, they have had the strongest impact in Alice Springs, where the full suite of measures have been in place since August 2018.
Alice Springs was the first NT destination to introduce effective alcohol measures, both prior to and then in line with the Riley Review reforms.