Have a say on shire alcohol policy

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THE need for a considered and comprehensive approach to alcohol management is underscored by statistics showing Mornington Peninsula residents are more at risk than elsewhere in the state.

The draft management plan states that the lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm impacts shire residents at a higher rate than in the southern metropolitan region and Victoria as a whole.

The shire has more alcohol-related road accidents, more ambulance call-outs to alcohol-related incidents, more hospital emergency department presentations and more hospital admissions as a result of alcohol than other areas.

“While alcohol consumption is widely recognised as a legitimate social activity, alcohol-related harm is a significant public health issue which currently impacts Mornington Peninsula Shire residents at a higher rate than that of Victoria,” the shire’s current alcohol policy states.

Examples of the shire’s role in controlling, managing and limiting the consumption of alcohol include bans on drinking in public places on New Year’s Eve, as well as in streets near The Pillars rock jumping area at Mt Martha, and before and after council meetings.

Peninsula residents can comment on the shire’s Draft Alcohol Management Policy 2017 until Monday 19 June.

The policy’s aim is to enhance the safety, amenity, and health and wellbeing of those living and working in the shire by raising awareness of the social problems caused by drinking, as well as managing alcohol consumption.   

The VicHealth Alcohol Cultures Framework says it is “imperative to address shifting and varied drinking cultures in order to reduce alcohol-related harm”.

“This can be achieved through a multifaceted approach which aims to create supportive environments where alcohol is consumed at low risk levels and high risk consumption is discouraged.”

The mayor Cr Bev Colomb said the draft policy “reflects council’s commitment to collaborating with our partners, particularly Victoria Police and local health services”.

“While the shire acknowledges alcohol consumption is widely recognised as a social activity, alcohol-related harm is a significant public health issue currently impacting residents,” she said.

“With increasing knowledge about how this issue affects the local community, it is our responsibility to take a planned and proactive approach to alcohol management.”

The policy applies to all types of council decision-making on liquor matters, including retailers, nightclubs, bars and restaurants, and council’s sporting, recreational and community facilities or public spaces.

The “three pillars” underpinning the harm-minimisation approach are demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction strategies, which includes delaying access to alcohol, preventing its misuse and supply, and reducing adverse health impacts, among a raft of other considerations.

“All levels of government and relevant organisations and stakeholders have a long-standing commitment to working in partnership to implement measures to minimise the misuse of and harms associated with alcohol consumption and build a responsible licensing system across the state,” the draft policy states.

Comment at: mornpen.vic.gov.au/haveyoursay

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 16 May 2017

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