Supporting safer alcohol use across the community - PDF Document

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  1. Local Government Supporting safer alcohol use across the community Cancer Council NSW extends an open invitation to Local Government: we would like to collaborate with you on initiatives that address alcohol problems experienced by the community. Our interest in this issue stems from the fact that alcohol is a risk factor for some cancers. This document is a starting point, which we hope will stimulate further conversation about how we can work together to address this important issue. Cancer Council invites Local Government to contact our representatives to discuss options for collaboration on this and other issues affecting the community. Our contact details can be found on the last page of this document. How is our community affected? Drinking large quantities of alcohol is generally accepted as a normal part of the Australian culture. However, from a health perspective, consuming more than two standard drinks a day places people at greater risk of preventable diseases.1 Twenty percent of all Australians aged 15 years and over consume alcohol in a way that puts them at risk of an alcohol-related disease or injury.2 The 2009 NSW Population Health Survey shows that when adults drink, just under 30 percent consume alcohol at risky levels.3 People aged 20–29 years are the group most likely to be putting themselves at risk of long-term alcohol-related harm. This resource guide provides an overview of the opportunities for council leadership in promoting safer drinking across the community and the workplace. To ensure this resource is holistic, we have included a wide range of ideas. Cancer Council appreciates that Local Governments have extensive experience in developing strategies to address alcohol and are already implementing many of the suggestions outlined below. Some of what we suggest will be new to you, some you will already be implementing well, while other ideas may not be feasible for your Local Government Area. We hope this resource contributes to the efforts of councils and other organisations to reduce risky drinking. Such efforts will foster a better and safer drinking culture in all parts of the community and help to reduce the longer-term health risks associated with alcohol consumption. It is estimated that each year, five percent of all cancers in Australia – over 5,000 cancers – are attributable to long-term use of alcohol.4 Alcohol is an important modifiable risk factor for some cancers, particularly cancers of the mouth, throat (pharynx and larynx), oesophagus, breast, bowel and liver.4 When it comes to cancer risk related to alcohol, there is no safe level of drinking. Proudly endorsed by

  2. Councils have a significant role in ensuring their Local Government Area is healthy, safe and family-friendly. Through their many roles and responsibilities, councils actively foster healthier and more liveable communities: The misuse of alcohol is a major preventable cause of death and hospitalisation in Australia. Apart from cancer, heavy consumption of alcohol can cause other long-term problems, such as cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol dependence, strokes, mental health issues and suicide. Additionally, there are several problems associated with risky short-term drinking, including violence, anti-social behaviour, vandalism, injuries and car accidents. Risky short-term drinking is when a person drinks more than four standard drinks on a single occasion, making them vulnerable to injury due to impaired awareness or lack of coordination.1 •As a planning authority, a council makes decisions about the built environment and public spaces to improve safety, and can adopt controls on alcohol availability and use. •As a service provider, a council may be responsible for setting guidelines on service of alcohol at council venues and public events. •As a community leader, a council can partner with government bodies and non-government organisations to influence the drinking culture and reduce harmful alcohol consumption. •As an employer, a council can actively support the health and wellbeing of staff, and by doing so increase employee health and improve work productivity. Many of the negative social effects of alcohol are clearly evident to councils and community members, causing some parts of the Local Government Area to be less amenable or enjoyable. How can councils help? Effectively addressing alcohol-related problems is an ongoing challenge for non-government organisations and all levels of government. There is no single body or organisation that is solely responsible for dealing with this issue. Collaboration is vital to developing sustainable, long-term solutions. Supporting safer alcohol use by the community requires a multi-pronged approach that seeks to address demand, supply and harm reduction, and over time, aims to change the drinking culture across the wider community. Cancer Council acknowledges the significant collaborative efforts made by councils when dealing with alcohol-related problems. These often include alcohol-free zones, the development and maintenance of liquor accords, and participation in Community Drug Action Teams (CDATs). To sustainably address the negative impacts of alcohol in our community, the underlying social norms of alcohol need to be changed. Local councils are contributing to this social change by providing community education, creating supportive environments that limit alcohol use, and fostering policies internally and externally that promote safer drinking. Councils have a deep knowledge of their communities, as well as a unique role in planning at the local level. As the sphere of government closest to local communities, council leadership on this issue can complement the role of non-government organisations and other levels of government in providing localised solutions to alcohol-related problems. A diverse range of activities and initiatives can combine to reduce alcohol-related harm in our community, thereby minimising the social, financial and health costs of this significant problem. Reducing long-term alcohol use will provide a range of social and health benefits, including reducing cancer rates. Each year over 5,000 cancers are due to long-term use of alcohol4 2

  3. Actions councils can take to promote safer drinking Councils are adept at taking a strategic approach towards addressing community concerns about alcohol consumption. Health or wellbeing priorities and objectives in the Community Strategic Plan provide the impetus for a range of initiatives that facilitate safer drinking of alcohol by the community. The five themes in this section may assist with reviewing what your council is currently doing to tackle alcohol-related problems. The themes are: • undertaking community education and partnership activities • providing alcohol-free alternatives for young people. • translating community priorities into actions • changing alcohol norms in the workplace • establishing alcohol conditions for sponsorships, council premises and events For each theme, a number of activities and initiatives are outlined for consideration. As stated earlier, we have included a wide range of ideas to capture the breadth of opportunities for councils, and to stimulate further discussion. Translating community priorities into actions Does your council have a whole-of-organisation policy or strategy to working on alcohol-related issues? Unite your council under an Alcohol Policy or Strategy Which components of the Community Strategic Plan have relevance to improving health, wellbeing or community safety? Specifically, which priorities, objectives or strategies provide the impetus for programs that help reduce alcohol consumption in the community? Taking action Resources A starting place is to identify suitable activities and initiatives that flow from the Community Strategic Plan and Delivery Program. For Local Health Districts and Local Government Area data to assess community needs and to inform planning, refer to NSW Health publications that report on the health status of the community, including data relevant to alcohol consumption – see The Health of the People of New South Wales Report: It is likely that multiple departments within your council have an interest and role in strategies that address alcohol issues. A clear organisational Alcohol Policy or Alcohol Strategy is one way to unite various sections within your council under a coordinated and strategic framework. In addition to an all-of-council policy or strategy, other council plans or policies will have some relevance to addressing alcohol, such as Community Safety Plans and Work Health and Safety Policies. The Australian Bureau of Statistics is also a useful source of community data: The Local Government Alcohol Management Package available from the Government of Western Australia Drug and Alcohol Office has information on uniting the various departments within council when dealing with alcohol-related issues. The package also has mapping tools to assist with this process: (search ‘local government’ and click on ‘resources for local government’). Cancer Council and Local Health Districts (formerly Area Health Services) are regional stakeholders who may be engaged in consultations to develop an Alcohol Policy and associated strategies. Cancer Council’s contact details can be found on the last page of this document. The Australian Government’s Local Government Alcohol and Drug Info Net (LGADIN) has information on community safety planning: (click on ‘resource library’). 3

  4. Changing alcohol norms in the workplace Does your council have a policy and/or guidelines relating to alcohol consumption by employees and councillors at internal and external events? Taking action Resources • A Workplace Alcohol Policy for staff and councillors could be developed that will provide guidance on behavioural expectations for events where alcohol is available. Alcohol use by council representatives also has implications for work health and safety risk-management. • Responsible service of alcohol information could be incorporated into council catering guidelines. A relevant point could be that if alcohol is served, appropriate food and non- alcoholic beverages are also made available. • Although alcohol-free events are ideal, if alcohol is provided, catering for no more than two standard drinks per person at council-run events is recommended. • The orientation process for all new employees could include an overview of your council’s alcohol-related policies/guidelines. • Council can consider if it is appropriate to develop guidelines on the practice of offering alcohol for gifts and prizes. Such guidelines may include points for consideration by staff when planning an activity. For example, is there an alternative to alcohol as a gift or prize that will be received just as favourably by the recipient? How essential is alcohol for the success of the activity or project? Your council may also consider guidelines for when its representatives are offered gifts of alcohol. If possible, it may be prudent to decline such gifts. See cancer-smart workplace information at (search ‘cancer-smart workplaces’). See Cancer Council’s publication Healthier Choices: Guidelines for serving healthier foods at local council meetings, functions and events, which also includes guidelines on healthy eating in workplaces: (search ‘council healthy eating resource’). Good Hosts is a hospitality management program designed to improve alcohol management at corporate events and hospitality functions through the adoption of minimum standards, including event promotion and risk-management criteria: Refer to the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW publications NSW Local Government Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy and the NSW Local Government Alcohol and Other Drugs Procedure. These are agreed industry resources for NSW councils to assist in the development and implementation of alcohol and other drugs procedures in the workplace. Visit (search ‘alcohol resources’ and click on ‘Resources’ page). Alcohol at work has implications for work health and safety 4

  5. Establishing alcohol conditions for sponsorships, council premises and events Does your council have guidelines to consider for sponsorship and partnerships with alcohol- related businesses, such as bottle shops, clubs and bars? Are alcohol conditions contained in lease or use agreements for council-owned premises? What is council policy on the availability of alcohol at council-run or sponsored events? • Encourage council-run community events – such as open days or festivals – to be alcohol- free. Consider holding council-run events in existing alcohol-free zones. This will enhance their family friendly appeal. Alternatives to alcohol-free events include only allowing community members to bring alcohol (in non-glass containers); or conversely, only allowing sales of limited amounts of alcohol (for example, no more than two drinks per person to be purchased at a time) in a similar manner to public events and permitting just a small number of vendors. Taking action •Ensure that sponsorships and partnerships your council agrees to are supportive and not contrary to council’s efforts to positively influence the drinking culture. Ideally, events and programs for families, children and young people should not give prominence to businesses that have an interest in promoting alcohol, such as bottle shops, clubs and bars. If such businesses are providing sponsorship for family-friendly community events and programs, then consider an agreement that may be able to be reached that minimises stand-alone promotion of alcohol products or outlets. • Ensure that standard risk-management practices routinely assess hazards associated with alcohol consumption at events. • Consider making some sporting facilities or council-owned parks and venues into alcohol- free zones. Resources • Encourage sporting clubs that utilise council- owned sporting grounds or venues to participate in the Good Sports program, which aims to reduce alcohol-related problems and foster a family-friendly club culture. Good Sports is a community program of the Australian Drug Foundation and works in partnership with many NSW councils. It provides resources and support to sporting clubs on reducing alcohol-related problems: • Consider extending similar activity promoted through the Good Sports program to other events and venues to promote alcohol-free events on council-owned facilities and open spaces as risk-averse venues, with the provision of incentives as a potential option. Encourage council-run community events to be alcohol-free 5

  6. Undertaking community education and partnership activities Does your council undertake community education about alcohol issues and partner with local organisations on awareness-raising projects? Taking action Resources • Review the range of options for communicating alcohol-related healthy lifestyle messages, such as through community centres, sports and recreation facilities, libraries and youth venues, and via website and printed publications. Details can be included about the Australian Alcohol Guidelines and the health risks of exceeding these guidelines. •Show leadership by promoting to the community your council’s alcohol-related policies and guidelines. Showcase your commitment to helping foster a safer drinking culture within your council workplace and the wider community. • Consider partnering with other organisations involved in projects aimed at reducing the use and harms associated with alcohol – for example, Community Drug Action Teams (CDATs). These are coalitions of government, non-government organisations and community members. Over 80 CDATs operate in NSW, and they support a wide array of projects. The Australian Government website contains the National Alcohol Strategy 2006–2011, the Australian Alcohol Guidelines, and a range of alcohol resources, publications, links and contacts. Cancer Council has a free brochure suitable for community members, entitled Alcohol and Cancer Risk, which can be ordered from NSW Health and Cancer Council produce a range of resources that can be adapted to the needs of your Local Government Area. See the section on information and support on page 7. For information about existing CDAT projects and on forming CDATs, see the NSW Government’s Your Room website: Providing alcohol-free alternatives for young people Is your council providing opportunities for alcohol-free socialising for young people? Is your council providing access to venues and facilities for young people that are alcohol-free? •Provide designated alcohol-free ‘chill-out zones’ at events popular with young people, where they can talk, rest and rehydrate on water. • Have water freely available at all council-run events. Taking action • Involve young people and youth workers in planning events and programs. They can be involved in identifying creative strategies to make them successfully alcohol-free. • Work with other organisations to plan alcohol- free events and social activities, such as music or arts events and sporting competitions. • Organise alcohol-free activities as part of NSW Youth Week (annually in April), and theme your Youth Week activities around fostering a culture of safer, more responsible drinking. • Encourage young people to access the range of designated alcohol-free places, such as sporting, recreation and leisure facilities, by providing free or reduced entry. Resources Youth NSW is a NSW Government–run website with information on youth issues, including alcohol, with links to grants and funding for youth events: The NSW Department of Education and Communities organises Youth Week annually in April: Cancer Council values the achievements of councils and would like to share news of your efforts to the Local Government sector and the wider community. You are welcome to send details of your local initiatives to 6

  7. Information and support Congratulations for taking action on supporting safer alcohol use Cancer Council NSW •Visit further information and publications. •For collaboration with undertaking initiatives and for Cancer Council input as a community stakeholder, please contact your nearest Cancer Council office (see last page for contact details). Local Health District and Local Government Area data General resources The following websites provide useful information to assist with developing initiatives to encourage responsible use of alcohol and to foster a safer drinking culture: To help inform your planning, refer to NSW Health publications that report on the health status of the community: •The Local Government Alcohol Management Package available from the Government of Western Australia Drug and Alcohol Office has detailed information and tools to assist councils in dealing with alcohol-related issues. The package covers topics from a whole-of-organisation approach to policies through to liquor licensing and town planning: (search ‘local government’ and click on ‘resources for local government’). • The Australian Government’s Local Government Drug and Alcohol Info Net has information and resources for councils, and provides an opportunity for councils to share innovations and success stories in this area: (click on ‘resource library’). • The NSW Government’s Alcoholinfo website provides a wide range of fact sheets, which can provide useful background material when developing strategies and policies relating to the reduction of alcohol use in your Local Government Area. Links are provided to information developed by other NSW Government departments and by non-government organisations: • The Australian Drug Foundation’s website provides information on alcohol, including managing alcohol in the workplace through their Good Hosts program: • The Australian Drug Information Network provides extensive information on all aspects of drug and alcohol issues, from prevention through to treatment: • DrugInfo provides information about alcohol and other drugs: • The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has a range of resources and information on alcohol: •Good Sports is a community program of the Australian Drug Foundation and works in partnership with many NSW councils. It provides resources and support to sporting clubs on reducing alcohol-related problems: • The NSW Ministry of Health’s The Health of the People of New South Wales Report: • The Health Survey Program includes information about health behaviours, health status, use and satisfaction of health services, and other factors that influence health: Please note that alcohol-related data at a Local Government Area level is limited. The website of the Australian Bureau of Statistics is also a useful source of data about your community: The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website is a national source of statistics and facts relating to alcohol use in the community, including publications on alcohol in the workplace: (search ‘alcohol’). References (1) National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council; 2009. (2) Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; (Drug Statistics Series); 2011. [cited 2012 Apr 18] (3) Centre for Epidemiology and Research. 2009 summary report on adult health from the New South Wales Population Health Survey (HOIST). Sydney: NSW Department of Health; 2010. [cited 2012 Mar 15] (4) Winstanley MH, Pratt IS, Chapman K, Griffin HJ, Croager EJ, Olver IN, Sinclair C, Slevin TJ. Alcohol and cancer: a position statement from Cancer Council Australia. Med J Aust. 2011;194(9):479-82. 7

  8. Contact details Cancer Council NSW Head Office 153 Dowling Street Woolloomooloo NSW 2011 Ph (02) 9334 1900, Fax (02) 8302 3500 Helpline 13 11 20 Central Coast The Hive, Erina Fair Erina NSW 2250 Ph (02) 4336 4500, Fax (02) 4367 5895 North West 1/ 218 Peel Street Tamworth NSW 2340 Ph (02) 6763 0900, Fax (02) 6766 7053 Central and Southern Sydney 153 Dowling Street Woolloomooloo NSW 2011 Ph (02) 9334 1900, Fax (02) 8302 3570 Far North Coast 101-103 Main Street Alstonville NSW 2477 Ph (02) 6627 0300, Fax (02) 6628 8659 Northern Sydney Level 1, 117 Willoughby Road Crows Nest NSW 2065 Ph (02) 9334 1600, Fax (02) 9436 0108 Mid North Coast 121 High Street Coffs Harbour NSW 2450 Ph (02) 6659 8400, Fax (02) 6652 1530 Greater Western Sydney Rotary House, 43 Hunter Street Parramatta NSW 2150 Ph (02) 9354 2000, Fax (02) 9687 1118 South West 1/37 Tompson Street Wagga Wagga NSW 2650 Ph (02) 6937 2600, Fax (02) 6921 3680 Southern Suite 7, Ground Floor, iC Enterprise 1 Innovation Campus, Squires Way North Wollongong NSW 2500 Ph (02) 4223 0200, Fax (02) 4285 0268 Western 75 Kite Street Orange NSW 2800 Ph (02) 6392 0800, Fax (02) 6361 7425 Hunter Unit C1–2, Landmark Building, 215 Pacific Hwy Charlestown NSW 2290 Ph (02) 4923 0700, Fax (02) 4920 7997 CAN10421 10/12 Proudly endorsed by