A comprehensive study of almost 24,000 people has shown Australian drinkers are reducing consumption and increasing abstinence.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Drug Strategy Household Survey, conducted in late 2016, has shown that Australians are drinking less often, by taking active steps to reduce their consumption. Younger Australians are also reducing their drinking, while over 80 per cent of underage drinkers are now ‘abstaining’.
According to Alcohol Beverages Australia Executive Director, Fergus Taylor, these significant results confirm that the vast majority of Australians are continuing to enjoy alcohol sensibly and in moderation, with continued declines in underage drinking an important long-term trend.
“While alcohol advertising is often blamed as a cause of underage drinking, this is not supported by official data or credible evidence. Significantly, the decline in underage drinking has occurred while alcohol advertising has increased and expanded onto new digital platforms including social media – a clear indication that regulations in place are working well,” Taylor said.
“These significant results confirm that the vast majority of Australians are continuing to enjoy alcohol sensibly and in moderation, with continued declines in underage drinking an important long-term trend,” Alcohol Beverages Australia Executive Director Fergus Taylor said.
“Through initiatives like DrinkWise, the industry has been targeting the real causes of underage drinking – parental behaviour and peer group influence – with campaigns that remind parents that their kids absorb their drinking behaviours, and the survey results show this strategy has been highly successful.
DrinkWise CEO, John Scott said the findings from the AIHW report reflect results from its own Australian Drinking Habits Research Report which showed an ‘improvement’ Australian drinking culture.
“We’ve come a long way over the last decade. We’re seeing significant generational change in the way Australians are drinking – particularly through the dramatic fall in underage drinking rates.”
“As a society, we are now more aware of the dangers of drinking while pregnant, parents know that they shouldn’t be supplying their underage children with alcohol and the broader population recognize that whilst having a drink can be an enjoyable part of a meal or socializing with friends and family – it’s ultimately about moderation and being responsible around alcohol.”
“These improvements have come at a time when DrinkWise has been at the forefront of harm minimization approaches aimed at reducing alcohol related harm in society. Through our campaigns and education activities we’ve been educating all Australians – from young adults through to grandparents of the importance of moderation around alcohol“.
Scott indicated that while the trend is moving in the right direction, the rate of improvement is not consistent across all age groups, gender and geographic locations.
“There is doubtless room for further improvement – and this provides a great challenge for organisations like ours, governments and other bodies with a genuine desire to improve the drinking culture, to work together to support individuals, families and communities to make healthier choices when it comes to alcohol,” he said.
Findings from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Drug Strategy Household Survey, conducted in late 2016 include:
- Australians drinking less often – with daily drinking continuing to decline and undertaken by a very small minority of Australians (less than 6%) and those drinking on a weekly basis also decreasing – with just over a third of the population (35.8%) doing so
- Australians taking active steps to reduce their alcohol consumption (50%) with many attributing this to taking better care of their health
- The strong majority of Australians (83%) drinking within government risk guidelines – with 60% consuming less than 2 standard drinks on an occasion they have a drink and 22.9% not drinking at all
- Australians are less likely to engage in risky activities while under the influence of alcohol – such as driving a motor vehicle (down from 12.2% to 9.9%)
- Young adult Australians are reducing excessive drinking – with excess drinking continuing to decline among 18-24 year olds (now 42% compared to 47% in 2013), and a rise in more moderate drinking – with 63% now drinking less than 2 standard drinks per day on average
- More Australian women are abstaining from alcohol while pregnant 56%, increasing from 53%
- Drinking by underage Australians continues to decline – with the vast majority now abstaining from alcohol (82%) compared to 73.3%