Media release

AMA Welcomes NSW Government Support for National Alcohol Summit

The AMA warmly welcomes the support of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and the NSW Government for a National Summit on alcohol abuse and alcohol-related harms.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the AMA called for a National Alcohol Summit in January following a spate of highly-publicised incidents of alcohol-related violence and reports of high numbers of alcohol-related presentations in the nation’s emergency departments.

“Senior AMA doctors from all States have reported increases in the number of patients arriving in emergency because of alcohol, be it from car accidents, domestic violence, misadventure, or as victims of unprovoked and mindless attacks,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Alcohol abuse and misuse is affecting thousands of Australian families every day.

“It is a national problem that needs a national solution. It requires action and leadership from the Federal Government to ensure we have a nationally consistent approach to addressing the problem.”

Dr Hambleton said the AMA had written to the Prime Minister urging the Government to take the lead and host a Summit.

“The Prime Minister took a strong interest in the issue following a string of so-called ‘coward punches’ in Sydney last month, including a personal plea on the front page of a newspaper,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Mr Abbott knows the problem and is in a unique position to bring people together to implement practical measures to make people and communities safer.

“We want a Summit that is all about action.  We don’t want another talkfest.

“The AMA wants a whole-of-government approach from all governments that looks at harm minimisation, the marketing of alcohol and how young people are exposed to this marketing, pricing and taxation, venue licensing and opening hours.

“But any policy and regulation must be informed by everyday community experience – from police, doctors and other health professionals, drug and alcohol services, teachers, and the families who suffer from alcohol addiction, misuse, and the associated violence and illness.

“A National Summit, convened by the Federal Government, would bring together the experience, the expertise, and the passion to bring about much-needed meaningful change to Australia’s alcohol ‘culture’.”


20 February 2014


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