The overwhelming majority of Australians consume beer in a positive and responsible way. Over recent decades, the consumption of beer has moderated in Australia. For the minority of people who misuse beer, we support greater education, and where necessary, targeted interventions to reduce the instances of misuse.
The majority of Australians drink responsibly
Millions of Australians drink beer in a moderate and responsible way. This has remained largely unchanged in recent decades. There is no evidence that alcohol consumption patterns have changed and created a crisis. The Federal Government’s own Preventative Health Taskforce report noted that “overall levels of alcohol consumption and drinking patterns have not changed markedly over the past decade”.
While we acknowledge that some people may misuse alcohol, the best approach for Governments is to focus on greater education and enforcement of existing laws, for example, underage consumption and safe on premise consumption.
Australians are drinking in moderation
Statistics show that millions of Australians drink beer in a moderate and healthy way. Our per capital alcohol consumption rates in Australia have been on consistent decline over the past three decades.
Australia’s per capita alcohol consumption peaked in the 1970’s, and now sits at around 20 per cent below that peak. It has remained steady or in decline for the past three decades. Latest statistics on pure alcohol available for consumption indicate a decrease of 0.8% in 2011-12 from 2010-11.
In comparison to other similar countries, Australia’s per capita consumption rates are moderate.
Australia’s consumption compared to other countries
Australians are a nation of moderate drinkers by international standards. Our per capita consumption is similar to that of comparable OECD nations, and is considerably lower than a number of other European countries.
High-risk groups are drinking less
The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey Report revealed a number of positive changes in how Australians are consuming alcohol.
A higher proportion of 12-17 year olds abstained from alcohol (61.6%) than those who had consumed any within the last 12 months (38.4%). The proportion of 12-15 year olds who abstained from alcohol increased in 2010 (from 69.9% in 2007 to 77.2% in 2010). Similar increases occurred for 16-17 year olds, rising from 24.4% in 2007 to 31.6% in 2010.
The proportion of pregnant women who abstained from alcohol during pregnancy has also significantly increased from 40.0% in 2007 to 52.0% in 2010.
There was little overall change in the proportion of risky drinkers from 20.3% in 2007 to 20.1% in 2010. Although minimal, it does indicate a gradual change and dispels the myth surrounding the ‘binge-drinking epidemic’. Likewise, the Roy Morgan Research Report on Alcohol Consumption has found Australians aged 18-24 years who drink alcohol in an average 4 weeks has progressively decreased each year for the last 5 years. In addition, it was found that the total volume of alcohol consumed by 18-24 year olds in an average 7 days has decreased by 11% in 5 years.
 Preventative Health Taskforce Report, 2009, pg 2