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The Salvation Army Submission to the Public consultation on the

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					               The Salvation Army
                Submission to the
Public consultation on the draft revised Australian
     alcohol guidelines for low-risk drinking
                  December 2007




Name: Mike Coleman (Major)

Title: Territorial Consultant - Drug and Alcohol Services

Organisation: The Salvation Army

Address: 3-7 Hamilton Street, Mont Albert, Victoria 3127

Telephone: (03) 9521 2770
            0417 116 948

Email: michael.coleman@aus.salvationarmy.org




                    Page 1 of 4
Summary of Recommendations

   1. The Salvation Army recommends that the new draft Australian alcohol
      guidelines for low-risk drinking are adopted in their entirety.

   2. The Salvation Army recommends that the guidelines are supported by
      ongoing, adequately resourced, awareness campaigns.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a Christian welfare organisation that delivers a broad
portfolio of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) services. Such services include:

    1. AOD treatment services and networks. These services and networks
       carry the primary goal of cessation or reduction of drug use, and
       deliver a range of service types including residential and home-based
       withdrawal, post-withdrawal support, counselling, consultancy,
       residential rehabilitation, continuing care, outreach work, case
       management and supported accommodation.

      Some services are target-group-specific, serving clients-groups such
      women with accompanying children, youth, and men.

      Across the nation approximately 9,000 AOD treatment episodes of care
      are delivered by The Salvation Army each year.

    2. Harm reduction services. Harm reduction services operate to
       specifically reduce harm to current users and to provide a pathway into
       treatment. Typical harm reduction services include needle and syringe
       (NSPs) programs and sober-up shelters. Typically, in The Salvation
       Army context, both of these service types are effective in referring into
       treatment.

      Salvation Army NSP’s distribute around half-a-million packs per year
      and sober-up shelters deliver about 5,000 episodes of care.

    3. AOD services attached to other (non-AOD) networks and services. A
       number of service systems, such as that for homelessness, have been
       able to make significant improvements in client outcomes by having a
       co-located team of AOD practitioners. A leading homelessness
       network provides an effective example of this type of service, where
       considerable investment in AOD practitioners assists clients in
       overcoming significant barriers to emerging from homelessness.

From this position of frontline experience, The Salvation Army is very active in
advocacy for the needs of consumers of AOD services, and for structural
changes in Australian society that will reduce the harms associated with
alcohol.




                                  Page 2 of 4
Overview

The Salvation Army supports the new draft Australian alcohol guidelines for
low-risk drinking, and congratulates NHMRC for its depth and breadth of
research and consultation in the process to date, and for the quality of the
outcome.

Recognising the Federal Government’s commitment to an evidence-based
approach, The Salvation Army recommends that the new draft guidelines are
adopted in their entirety. Special attention is made of Guideline 3, concerning
women who are pregnant, and a recommendation is made to commit
resources to the promotion and awareness of the guidelines.

Drinking during Pregnancy1

The Salvation Army has been a long time advocate for the adoption of the
position that no drinking during pregnancy is the safe option.

This view is predicated on the understanding that there is no recognised lower
cut-off point below which drinking during pregnancy is safe for the unborn
child. Whilst it is recognised that there is robust current debate about this
issue, the teratogenic qualities of alcohol are well-known, and can only be
entirely protected against by abstinence during pregnancy.

It is hoped that future research will establish a definitive lower cut-off point at
which the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy may be deemed safe, but
until that is established The Salvation Army believes that the only responsible
course of action is to recommend that for women who are pregnant, are
planning a pregnancy or are breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option.

The Salvation Army recommends that the new draft Australian alcohol
guidelines for low-risk drinking are adopted in their entirety.

Promotion and Awareness Campaigns to support the guidelines

The Salvation Army understands that the previous iteration of the guidelines
in 2001 was supported by a once-off promotion and awareness campaign,
delivered at the cost of approximately $1 million. Whilst there has been
further spending on alcohol awareness campaigns since 2001, it does not
nearly match the liquor industry’s typical annual spend of over $20 million on
advertising and promotion. Much of this advertising is perceived as promoting
the use of alcohol in the absence of balancing messages about its potential
harms. Therefore The Salvation Army suggests that, in an attempt to partly
redress this imbalance, Government makes a commitment to an adequately
resource ongoing promotion and awareness campaigns with the goal of
keeping the guidelines constantly before the public.



1
    Recommendation 3, p57 of the draft guidelines


                                         Page 3 of 4
These campaigns should be evidence-based, culturally relevant to various at-
risk sub-groups, and evaluated for effectiveness.

The Salvation Army recommends that the guidelines are supported by
ongoing, adequately resourced, awareness campaigns.




                                 Page 4 of 4

				
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