GrogWatch - Close to home

Close to home – councils making a difference

This week GrogWatch wants to congratulate and celebrate the local governments that are taking action to reduce alcohol related harm. Councils have limited space to act in this area, but that isn’t stopping some councils from making a difference.

Seven councils in the south-east metropolitan area of Melbourne are working to make the application process for packaged liquor outlets (bottle shops) more robust. The councils are Casey, Greater Dandenong, Frankston, Kingston, Bass Coast, Cardinia and Mornington. They are being supported by the Australian Drug Foundation and Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.

Central to this new approach is tailoring assessment criteria to the local area by considering:

  • Relevant legislative and policy framework
  • A socio-economic analysis of local communities
  • Key data from police and ambulance services
  • Previous VCAT and VCGLR decisions
  • Density of current packaged liquor outlets
  • Diverse stakeholder views including retailers, residents and community groups, licensing authorities, police, and peak bodies.

GrogWatch will keep you updated on how this program progresses.

Other initiatives in local governments that are reducing alcohol related harms, which should be shared and celebrated include:

  • Open Sydney: Future directions for Sydney at night (City of Sydney)
  • Surcharges applied to those businesses operating late at night (Geelong Greater City Council)
  • Modifying entertainment precinct infrastructures to minimise harm (Cities of Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane)
  • More robust event management for large scale festivals (City of Port Phillip)
  • Community education programs to raise awareness of alcohol-related harms (City of Greater Dandenong)
  • Lock outs and reduced trading hours (The City of Newcastle).

More information on these programs can be found in the Australian Drug Foundation publication Under the influence: What local governments can do to reduce drug and alcohol related harms in their communities.

These are a few initiatives we know about, but what is your experience? Is there something interesting happening in your local government area you’d like to share?