Through NAAPA, emergency workers, health professionals, community members, community sector workers, researchers and advocates have come together to present a comprehensive plan that addresses alcohol harms. The plan is outlined under five key priority areas:
- Protecting children and families
- Putting communities first
- Reducing disability and disease
- Preventing street violence
- Building a robust alcohol harm prevention framework
Each day in NSW alcohol is responsible for 66 assaults, 27 of which are domestic assaults, 28 emergency department presentations, 142 hospitalisations and three deaths. It is a staggering and frightening toll, a roll-call of unacceptable and preventable harms that can only be fully addressed by a comprehensive plan of action. NAAPA’s election platform provides such a solution, and recognises the absolute need to develop an evidence-based state-wide alcohol plan; one that acknowledges this is an issue impacting on all communities throughout the State and one that ensures government efforts are coordinated, comprehensive and cost effective.
NAAPA also recommends the expansion of the successful Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment (MERIT) program which currently provides adult defendants with substance abuse problems the opportunity to access treatment as part of their bail conditions. Currently the program is largely limited to defendants with issues with illicit drugs, but should be expanded so that all local courts offering the MERIT program would also offer alcohol services.
NAAPA is also calling for measures to ensure the alcohol industry is not involved in alcohol policy development, beginning with maintaining the ban on political donations from the alcohol industry to NSW political parties, and the development of a code of conduct that would ensure the alcohol industry does not play any part in the development of alcohol policy or health promotion programs in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.