Blaming alcohol for domestic violence not the answer

The findings of a new report examining family domestic violence in Australia show that alcohol cannot be blamed for increases in domestic violence, and reducing its availability is not the answer to addressing this serious issue, peak industry body Alcohol Beverages Australia has said.

The Alcohol/Drug-Involved Family Violence in Australia (ADIVA) report, “Shows that ‘alcohol-related’ domestic violence incidents have decreased across the board, despite an overall increase in domestic violence,” Alcohol Beverages Australia Executive Director Fergus Taylor said.

“This is proof of a dire need to concentrate on properly establishing and addressing the causes of domestic violence, not simplistically blaming alcohol for its prevalence. By using alcohol as a scapegoat, focus on the real causes of domestic violence is reduced, letting down some of the most vulnerable members of society. “

Figures published in the report showing a decreased proportion of ‘alcohol-related’ family domestic violence incidents recorded in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania from 2009-14 (with offender data not available for South Australia or ACT) are welcome in helping to address the misconception that alcohol causes violence, Mr Taylor said.

“ABA supports zero tolerance policies for domestic violence and recognises that there are many instances where alcohol is present when acts of domestic violence are perpetrated. However, it is a misconception that alcohol causes violence. Importantly, this has been recognised by White Ribbon Australia.

“To reduce domestic violence, a combination of education, social change programs, appropriate regulation of behaviours, and the certainty of legal sanctions for violence is vital, which is why the ADIVA report’s recommendation that restricting liquor licences would see a reduction in domestic violence is off the mark.

“That is not backed up by the data – for example, there has been a reduction in the number of ‘alcohol-related’ incidents in NSW despite an increase in the number of packaged liquor licences in the state. There is a lack of credible evidence to suggest a reduction in alcohol availability and in turn alcohol consumption would result in a decrease in domestic violence. Limiting the availability of alcohol would just unnecessarily penalise the broader population.

“However the alcohol industry does support the report’s call for further research into causality and identification of crucial early intervention signals. Domestic violence is a huge issue facing Australian society and there is a need for complex and targeted responses to ensure it is stopped.”

Alcohol Beverages Australia is the peak industry body created to highlight the positive social, cultural and economic contribution of alcohol beverages in Australia, and promote, explain and defend the legitimate rights of the industry and the 15 million Australians who drink responsibly.


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