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How alcohol impacts WA: an electorate by electorate guide

Media release

A new report to be sent to 2017 Western Australian election candidates will provide a snapshot of the scale of alcohol-related harm in their own electorates to help them form evidence-based policies aimed at tackling the issue.

The report − produced by Curtin University researchers at the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth and the National Drug Research Institute, in association with the WA Alcohol and Youth Action Coalition − for the first time provides estimates of alcohol-related harms at the WA electoral district level.

McCusker Centre Executive Officer and Curtin Research Fellow Ms Julia Stafford said alcohol was involved in an extraordinarily wide range of immediate and longer term health and social problems and affected every corner of WA.

The report, entitled Alcohol-related Harms in Western Australian Electoral Districts, would enable candidates in each of WA’s 59 Lower House electoral districts to base prevention and harm-reduction policies on the best available data.

“Harm from alcohol affects all WA communities and much of the harm is preventable,” Ms Stafford said.

“For political parties keen to reduce the pressure on hospitals, ambulances and police resources, a commitment to evidence-based policies to prevent and reduce harm from alcohol would go a long way to achieving this.”

Ms Stafford said the report provided estimates of three important areas of alcohol-related harms: deaths, emergency department (ED) presentations and police-recorded serious assaults within each district (where relevant data was available).

“Causes of death and other harm partially or wholly attributable to alcohol include cancers, stroke, falls, drowning, assault, road crashes, alcohol dependence, suicide and liver cirrhosis,” Ms Stafford said.

“Each of these places a huge strain on community resources, including emergency departments which deal with the consequences of alcohol on a daily basis.

“For example, between 2009 and 2013 there were 2,328 alcohol-related ED presentations in the area including the Armadale electorate (42,802 electors counted), 1,746 in the area including the Midland electorate (37,112 electors counted) and 1,787 in the area including the Cannington electorate (48,905 electors counted).”

“Nevertheless, the estimates clearly show that alcohol harms are a significant problem across the State,” she said.

“Future reports will seek to build on these estimates and provide additional indicators of alcohol harms.”

The report will be sent directly to as many WA election candidates as possible, and is available online at http://mcaay.org.au/assets/publications/alcohol-related-harms-in-WA-electoral-districts_Feb2017.pdf.