Media release

AMA National Alcohol Summit Communique




The far-reaching impacts of alcohol-related harm underlie why Australia urgently needs a whole-of-government strategy to coordinate and drive action to address these factors.

The AMA is committed to reducing the harms from alcohol and the unacceptable impact they have on our citizens and community. The AMA believes these harms can only be effectively tackled through a nationally-led strategy of high impact campaigns to change behaviours and address unhealthy drinking culture, backed by effective regulation, and early intervention and treatment.

We look to the Australian Government to provide this leadership to address this significant health and social issue for the Australian community.

AMA Call to Action

As doctors and public health practitioners, we are at the frontline in dealing with the devastating effects of excessive alcohol consumption.

But addressing harmful alcohol use is not just the responsibility of the medical profession – prevention at every level is a shared responsibility

The AMA National Alcohol Summit drew together people from government, community leaders, medical and health experts, police, families of victims, and people who have experienced first-hand the myriad of harms that arise from alcohol. These are the voices of Australia’s collective concern about this priority public health problem.

The harms associated with excessive alcohol consumption are very significant for individuals and for society as a whole, and warrant our community’s comprehensive response. Successful prevention and early intervention will minimise the effect of factors that contribute to harmful alcohol use, and promote and strengthen the factors that protect against that behaviour.

State and Territory Governments, in conjunction with local government, can make a big difference, particularly in relation to the density of drinking establishments, opening hours, and policing licences.

But at the heart of the solution is strong and committed national leadership. There is an urgent and unmet need for the Australian Government to tackle this problem with more robust and rigorous policy and regulation to supplement parental oversight and responsibility.

Without that leadership, commitment and coordination, we at the frontline will continue to mop up the devastation caused by alcohol in Australia – the road fatalities, the victims of violence, and the children who suffer the effects of the drinking around them.

The outcome of this Summit is a call to action to the Australian Government – a call to develop an ambitious, comprehensive, and world-leading National Alcohol Strategy to be funded and implemented from the 2015 Federal Budget, with eight defined outcome areas for raising awareness, reducing harm, funding major initiatives, tracking outcomes, sponsoring research and evaluation, and coordinating responsible regulatory and licensing provisions across States and Territories.

The Australian Government’s new National Alcohol Strategy should:

1) Set out the role of the Australian Government in leading a consistent national approach to the supply of, and access to, alcohol. 

2) Include the development and implementation of effective and sustained advertising and community-led public education campaigns that address the public’s understanding of unsafe drinking and the harms of excess alcohol use. Campaigns should target a range of priority audiences, including young people and pregnant women.

3) Include the increased availability of targeted alcohol prevention and treatment services throughout the community, including: GP-led services and referral mechanisms; community-led interventions; safe sobering-up facilities; increased availability of addiction medicine specialist services; treatment and detoxification services at all major hospitals; and services for acute alcohol abuse at hospitals with emergency departments.

4) Include measures that specifically respond to the particular needs and preferences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and other culturally and linguistically diverse groups.

5) Include the development and implementation of statutory regulation of alcohol marketing and promotion, independently of the alcohol and advertising industries, with meaningful sanctions for non-compliance. Particular attention should be paid to sponsorship and promotion in the community and professional sporting industries.

6) Support research and evaluation and data collection to monitor and measure alcohol use and alcohol-related harms across the Australian community, and the effectiveness of different alcohol treatment options. Data collected by Government departments and authorities should be readily available to alcohol researchers and program evaluators.

7) Include a review of current alcohol taxation and pricing arrangements and how they can be reformed to discourage harmful drinking.

8) Ensure transparent policy development, with sufficient independence to avoid influence from industry.


29 October 2014


CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                            Odette Visser                      02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

Media Contacts


 02 6270 5478
 0427 209 753

Follow the AMA

‌ @AustralianMedicalAssociation

Related topics