There’s no doubt that alcohol plays a significant role in family violence, as a recent submission from Victoria’s Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) to the Royal Commission into Family Violence makes clear.
We’ve discussed previously the role alcohol plays in exacerbating the often silent epidemic of domestic violence:
Don’t get us wrong, alcohol doesn’t cause otherwise peaceful people to become suddenly violent, but it does allow people who have violent tendencies to express their aggression more easily and more often. The key effect of alcohol is to reduce inhibitions, or the internal brakes on our behaviour that prevent us from acting in ways that are risky, inappropriate and dangerous. A sober brain makes different and better decisions than one impaired by alcohol.
A significant report from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education from the start of this year found that more than one million Australian children were affected in some way by the drinking of others, and that over 10,000 children are in the child protection system because of a carer’s drinking.
These statistics are shocking, particularly because they’re so preventable. The APC’s submission recommends that any plan to prevent family violence must recognise and respond to the role that alcohol plays in the frequency and severity of domestic abuse.
Within its submission the APC suggests:
- Empowering local governments to more strongly control numbers of licensed premises
- Running more frequent personal safety surveys to capture detailed accounts of different types of violence. Currently run every seven years, the APC recommends they be carried out at least every three years
- Introducing a new code at hospital emergency departments to better capture harms associated with alcohol
- Re-introducing the compulsory recording of alcohol’s involvement in child protection cases
The Australian Drug Foundation is a founding member of the APC. See the full list of members.