Do Blue Mountains young people drink at risky levels?

Recent research shows that while there are increasing numbers of young people abstaining from alcohol, those young people who do drink are consuming larger quantities.

Table 1: Alcohol consumption for young people 16-24 years, NSW and Blue Mountains, 2005-07

 

High risk alcohol consumption

Risk alcohol consumption

 

NSW

Blue Mountains

NSW

Blue Mountains

Males 16-24 yrs (95% CI)

24.2% (20.9-27.5)

51.1% (19.6-82.7)

45.9% (42.1-49.7)

66.1% (36.9-95.3)

Females 16-24 yrs (95% CI)

15% (12.6-17.4)

15.5% (0.0-31.9)

39.4% (36.1-42.8)

38.3% (14.8-61.8)

Total

19.6%

28.4%

42.7%

48.3%

Source: NSW Population Health Survey 2007 (HOIST), Centre for Epidemiology and Research, NSW Department of Health in (Blue Mountains Division of General Practice, 2007)

Table 1 shows that Blue Mountains young men are drinking at high risk and risk levels far in excess of the State average. This is of great concern and all efforts should be made to reduce these high levels of risky drinking.

Do young women drink at risky levels?

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) 2011 shows young males are more at risk of alcohol related harm than young females. Nevertheless, young females, especially those aged 18-29, have increased their high risk consumption in recent years. The NDSHS does not publish Local Government Area specific data, but it can be assumed that these trends are mirrored by Blue Mountains young people.

What are local services doing to reduce youth alcohol related harm in the Blue Mountains?

A range of local community services and government agencies have been for working for many years  to reduce youth alcohol related harm in the Blue Mountains. These services and agencies have been providing a range of direct services to young people and their families, such as counselling and group work, as well as preventive and education programs to young people, their families and the broader community.  

Mountains of Help is both an on-line and printed Council directory containing a comprehensive list of resources and services available to young people, including drug and alcohol support.

Please refer to the Mountains of Help website for more information.   

What is the Youth Mental Illness and Substance Abuse (YMISA) Network?

The Blue Mountains Youth Mental Illness and Substance Abuse (YMISA) network formed in 2007. YMISA is convened by the Council to improve youth mental health and drug and alcohol service delivery to young people. YMISA has representation from key government and non-government services in the Blue Mountains.  This network provides local coordination of prevention and early intervention programs.

What is the Community Drug Action Team (CDAT)?

The CDAT is a local network convened by Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre and with broad representation from a number of government and non-government organisations. The CDAT has been set up to identify and respond to local drug and alcohol issues regarding the whole community.

What are Liquor Accords?

Liquor Accords are voluntary agreements comprised of licensees, community organisations, Local Area Command and Council, which aim to reduce alcohol related harm. There are two accords in the Mountains, the Upper Blue Mountains Liquor Accord and the Lower Mountains Liquor Accord. 

What are the approval processes for liquor outlets?

Legislative Frameworks:

The NSW Liquor Act 2007 sets the legislative framework for regulating liquor related matters.  The Act sets the framework for approving and placing conditions on Liquor Licences, including densities and the hours of operation of liquor outlets. The Act sets out the requirements for the “Responsible Service of Alcohol”.

All Liquor Licence approvals are made by the State Government through the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. Police have the responsibility for enforcing laws associated with liquor and licensed premises. Proactive policing of licensed premises is crucial in reducing alcohol related harm.

In addition to Liquor Licence approval a liquor outlet may be required to get building and development approval. The NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act is the legislation that relates to development and building approvals generally and also applies to liquor outlets. Councils are the consent authority. Appeals can be made to the Land and Environment Court.

The Blue Mountains City Council’s recent experience (shared by many Councils), is that it is extremely difficult to factor social impacts and the existing densities of liquor outlets into the approval processes. Recent advice from the NSW Minister for Planning is that planning regulations should not be used to restrict competition, unless it can be demonstrated that the benefits of such restrictions would outweigh the costs if the planning (or social) objectives can only be achieved by restricting competition. It may however be appropriate to consider in more detail the overlap between the planning legislation and National Competition Principles and any implications for controlling retail liquor outlets through the planning system.

The Draft Action Plan advocates consideration of more effective ways to factor the social impacts of alcohol harm into the development assessment and Liquor Licensing processes and to give more weight to the concerns of the local community.