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SURVEY AUSSIE DRINKING HABITS CREATE CLIMATE OF FEAR

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					Media Release


   SURVEY: AUSSIE DRINKING HABITS CREATE CLIMATE OF FEAR
        New research highlights alcohol-related abuse over holiday period –
             2 million + Australians experienced verbal or physical abuse


Tuesday, 4 February 2008 – New national market research reveals over 2.2 million Australians
over the age of 14 experienced physical and/or verbal abuse during the recent December –
January holiday period from someone under the influence of alcohol. Almost 700,000 claimed
they initiated verbal or physical abuse towards others after drinking, and more than 30% of
teenagers surveyed claimed they feared for the safety of their family and friends as a
consequence of excess drinking.


Commissioned by Australia’s leading alcohol harm minimisation body, the Alcohol Education &
Rehabilitation Foundation (AER) and completed by Quantum Market Research (*), the results
raise significant concerns about the social impacts of excessive drinking.


Other results from the survey show:
   •   Over 2.6 million Australians know someone who was injured or harmed through excess
       alcohol over the period,
   •   Over 2.4 million Australians were at some time over the Christmas / New Year period
       concerned for their safety, or the safety of their friends due to exposure to excess
       alcohol,
   •   Those in the 14 – 17 year old age group were the most concerned about alcohol related
       violence. An alarming 45% of 14-17 year olds Australia wide claim they knew someone
       who was injured or harmed as a result of drinking excessively, and that 30% of 14-17
       year olds were concerned for the safety of their family and friends when in the presence
       of drunk people over the December / January period.


Commenting on the findings, AER CEO Daryl Smeaton said: “These results are alarming and
illustrate the widespread climate of fear and abuse being created by everyday excess drinking. I
can’t imagine any reasonable Australian would find the scale of abuse revealed by this study
acceptable. Perhaps the greatest concern is the vulnerability of our young people. Australians
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need to ask themselves - is this the environment we want our children to grow up in? If the
answer to that question is no, then we urgently need to start changing the way we drink.


“Many Australians now recognise we have a national drinking problem, but when it comes to our
everyday drinking habits most people are more comfortable turning a blind eye,” he said.


“This study illustrates why we can no longer afford to do that. Beyond the obvious social
impacts, there are enormous physical harms that stem from everyday excess drinking. Alcohol is
second only to smoking in its contribution to the chronic disease burden in Australia and is the
second largest cause of drug-related deaths, after tobacco. By very conservative estimates,
alcohol related harm costs the Australian community in excess of $15 billion annually. That
money is effectively thrown away to combat an issue that is to a large extent within our own
control. Wouldn’t we rather see it directed towards more hospital beds, and a better health
system overall?


"The Government has acknowledged that alcohol misuse is one of three main contributors to
chronic disease in Australia, and Mr Rudd's team made a powerful pre-election commitment to
undertaking preventative work to help reduce this. AER is calling on the Government to urgently
follow through on this important promise and to vastly improve on the Howard Government's
alcohol package announced in the 2006 Budget,” said Mr Smeaton.


In response to the growing issue of binge drinking, AER will, next month, launch a campaign
aimed at ‘changing the way we drink’.          Through this program, AER seeks to challenge
Australia’s tolerant attitude to binge drinking, to reduce the social, health and economic costs of
excessive drinking and to make Australia a safer place.
                                              - ends -
Media Contact:
Amanda McGregor –02 9270 0242, mobile 0411 222 311, email: amanda@launchgroup.com.au


About AER: AER is an independent, not-for-profit company established by in 2001 and funded by a
government grant. The AER mandate is to prevent alcohol and licit substance abuse especially amongst
disadvantaged, indigenous and young people; to support evidence-based treatment, research and
prevention programs in the Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) sector; and to highlight the dangers of licit
substance abuse and promote the responsible consumption of alcohol within the community. AER has
funded over 800 programs throughout Australia including numerous programs which contribute to shifting
community attitudes towards a responsible approach to alcohol consumption. For further information:
http://www.aerf.com.au
(*) About the Quantum study: The Quantum study was commissioned by AER. It was a national survey
(weighted to the national population to ensure that age, gender and location (based on state) were
representative) conducted from 16 Jan 2008 to 22 Jan 2008, online with 1000 respondents aged 14 years
and above.
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Description: SURVEY AUSSIE DRINKING HABITS CREATE CLIMATE OF FEAR