Australia and alcohol: living down the legend

Richard Midford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This image of the heavy-drinking Australian is now part of Australian myth and has its historical roots in the first days of the colony. Drinking forms part of the romantic Australian legend and there is a good precedent in Australian history to suggest that a radical alcohol reform agenda can provoke community backlash. This does not mean the automatic discounting of more vigorous approaches. Random breath testing provides an example of successful social engineering. Accordingly, radical interventions should be considered for pervasive problems, such as community dysfunction high-risk groups, such as young people; and disadvantaged groups, such as Aboriginal people. During the 1980s and 1990s the problems created by alcohol did not receive the same amount of attention as those associated with illicit drug use, but the climate seems to be changing. In 2001, a separate National Alcohol Strategy was published that sets out a broad coordinated approach to the reduction of alcohol related harm. The National Alcohol Strategy is now due for review and this provides an excellent opportunity to not only re-examine priorities, but to also set out a mechanism and timetable for action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-896
Number of pages6
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


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