This paper examines the new National Health and Medical Research Council alcohol guidelines and issues related to communicating these to the wider community.
Preventing or minimising the adverse impact of alcohol on the community is an ongoing challenge. Many strategies, approaches and initiatives aimed at various target groups are employed across a range of sectors, from population-wide strategies (such as pricing and taxation) to strategies focused on individuals (such as brief interventions and alcohol education) -- with varying levels of effectiveness. Central to designing, delivering or evaluating any alcohol harm prevention program is a definition of the alcohol-related behavior being sought as an outcome. Guidelines on drinking alcohol have long been used in many countries to define “safe" or "low risk" levels of alcohol consumption. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recently released new Australian alcohol guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol that are significantly different in many ways from the previous ones which they now replace.
This paper also looks at how an 'alcohol guidelines' document can be used. The paper is designed to be of assistance to anyone who has responsibility for using the guidelines in their work, for example health and welfare workers; counsellors; teachers and community educators; and health planners.