Alcohol Consumption in Australia 1

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Business Report: Alcohol Consumption in Australia

Executive Summary

This research report largely examines the nature of alcohol consumption in Australia. It borrows its ideas from the theories of disease, biological and psychosocial. These theories have tried to explain the overall causes of harmful consumption of alcohol. Australia is considered one of the ‘drinking continent/country’ due to its high rate and risky alcohol consumption. This paper will rely on secondary academic data collection as well as internet sources to get more information concerning harmful alcohol consumption and related problem. It identifies the most affected population which include teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24. Moreover, the relationship between causes (theories), influencers (such as pricing and taxation) and alcohol consumption is established in the conceptual framework to further the understanding of harmful alcohol consumption and low level of the same in Australia. Also the effects and implications of harmful alcohol intake are described and illustrated in the conceptual framework. Finally, major actors have played a critical role in the management of harmful alcohol consumption. However, some of the policies that have been proposed have been downplayed and this calls for more action over the same problem.

Problem Statement and Research Objectives

The volume of alcohol intake in Australia is alarming overall. Many Australians drink alcohol of full strength which is above 3.5% according to table 1 of Australian Bureau of Statistics Data. This means that intake amongst alcohol drinkers is at harmful levels especially amongst young adults and teenagers. This exposes their health as well as others’ at grave risk (AMA, 2012).

There are a number of factors that are major contributors to harmful levels of alcohol consumption in Australia. These, according to NAAA entail marketing and promotion, glamorization of alcohol, social acceptability of use of hazardous materials, acceptability and availability of alcohol, affordability, as well as pricing of alcohol and taxation. Some measures to address harmful intake of alcohol in Australia have focused on these causes. One of these includes alcohol taxation which is a means of increasing alcohol price as an intervention to reduce harmful intake of alcohol and negative implications. However, some of these measures have to a large extent been a flaw. For instance, Australia has under-utilized taxation policy despite its effectiveness. While there has been relatively lower tax rate on alcohol beer with low strength, there are great-deal inconsistencies in taxing of alcohol products, especially in relation to content level and propensity to lead to harmful effects (NAAA).

This research therefore aims to: analyze the causes and effects of high alcohol consumption on Australians, examine the nature of alcohol consumption and its implications in Australia, examine the challenges in the management of harmful alcohol consumption as well as suggest solutions and recommendations towards the reduction of harmful alcohol consumption.

Literature Review

This research report largely bases on reviewing academic books as well as internet sources to collect data about alcohol consumption in Australia especially between the years 2012 and 2013.

Causes of Alcohol Consumption

There is a slippery understanding of what causes harmful alcohol consumption. There are two approaches when it comes to the understanding of what causes alcohol consumption; those who believe it is a disease and those who think it is a behavioural disorder. Overall, there is partial or no common understanding on the cause (Ontario, 2004).

Biological Theories

Ontario (2004) holds that research indicate that biological and genetic aspects are entailed in the dependence development. The WHO published that the brain has a role in alcohol addiction in 2004. It is proved that some men with dependent families may possess genetic predisposition towards developing issues. However, this does not imply that they may be addicted. Instead they may inherit some genetic attributes which exposes them to higher risks of alcohol dependency if they consume large volumes of alcohol.

Additionally, brain chemistry has also been associated with alcohol addiction by WHO. Chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine are implicated in a number of ways. Dopamine is associated with stress when it is in lower levels, while pleasure feelings are involved on higher levels. Alcohol temporarily increases dopamine increasing a person’s pleasure. This makes the person to resort to alcohol again increasing their utility.

Disease Theory

Medical professionals have for more than 40 years believed that alcohol consumption to addiction is a fatal physical disease which is chronic, incurable and progressive. To add those with the disease are beyond self-control. The disease drives them to more and more drinking until they are retarded spiritually, physically and emotionally. However, the disease effects can be curbed when the person stops consuming alcohol (Ontario, 2004).

Psychosocial Theory

Social, psychological and environment elements are critical when it comes to alcohol drinking patterns. This idea is believed by all experts including those who are for the Disease Theory. Research indicates that learning has a big impact on the development of the behaviour of harmful alcohol drinking (Ontario, 2004). Drinking, things to expect from drinking alcohol and how to use drinking for various purposes are things learnt. People who view uncontrolled alcohol drinking with intoxication intention learn to drink the same way. People are also influenced by drinking consequences. People tend to behave a certain way when they experience positive results for the behaviour. For instance, if someone’s social clique drinks high volume of alcohol and they receive positive feedback from their clique members for drinking that same way, they more often than not are likely to keep up the pattern. Thus, Ontario (2004) holds, ‘Habit is a learned element of drinking. People learn to use alcohol in certain situations including developing the habit of drinking heavily.’

Harmful Nature and Effects of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

According to the AIHW (2012), alcohol consumption is widely spread in Australia and is entangled with various cultural and social activities. It is reported each year that excessive intake of alcohol leads to health deterioration as well as social harms. Alcohol is ranked second after tobacco as a cause of death related to drug use and hospitalization. This is evident in the year 2003, where 2% of sum total disease burden was attributed to consumption of alcohol, with a larger percentage lying amongst men.

Moreover, NAAA has found out that, in five Australians (14 years and more), one drinks at high risk/ short-term risky levels once a month at least. Besides, about 40% of detainees in Australia are a result of alcohol consumption. Excessive consumption of alcohol can also lead to retardation of brain development.

NAAA (2012) contend that about 60 disease types and injuries are caused by alcohol. Other social issues such as workplace absenteeism, child abuse and neglect, drunk-driving and violence are also associated with alcohol.

Overall, alcohol intake amongst Australians is in large volume. Myriads of Australians consume alcohol at harmful levels especially young adults and teenagers. This renders them vulnerable to health deterioration. Some of the factors that lead to harmful alcohol consumption include alcohol glamorization, promotion and marketing, availability and affordability of alcohol among others. Excessive intake of alcohol warrants significant measures to curb it, considering young adults and teenagers (AMA, 2012).

Factors that Influence Alcohol Consumption

Pricing of Alcohol and Taxation

Global scientific evidence has consistently showed that price (including small alterations) highly influences alcohol consumption. Taxation of alcoholic drinks has been regarded as an effective means of increasing alcohol price which reduces alcohol consumption indirectly. Aside from just reducing alcohol consumption, it also minimizes alcohol-related problems such as traffic accidents, mortality rates and crimes (NAAA, 2012).

Despite the fact that taxation has been proved as an effective strategy of reducing alcohol consumption, it has been downplayed in Australia. This is because the recent alcohol taxation reign has showed a flaw. While the regime has to a positive end lowered the tax rate on low alcohol beer, it has proved inconsistencies in the manner of taxing alcohol products. This means that alcohol products are not taxed consistently and coherently in relation to their strength, nor the propensity of causing harm (NAAA, 2012).

Marketing and Promotion

Marketing and promotion of alcohol influence the attitudes of young people towards drinking to harmful levels. Due to the contemporary Australia with digital technologies of the media and communications, Australians are exposed to marketing of alcohol to a larger extent. This is evidently particularly amongst young adults and teenagers who are exposed to marketing of alcohol on interactive games, online videos, phones, social networks such as twitter and facebook among others. Alcohol marketing is largely becoming multidimensional and sophisticated encompassing offline and online promotions with the sporting and music sponsorship events, new brands of alcohol proliferation and flavour as well as distribution of merchandise brands. This marketing and promotion render young adults and teenagers susceptible to alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms (AMA, 2012).

Accessibility and Availability

There is an alarming concern among Australian communities about alcohol availability basically caused by liquor control laws deregulation. There is a close link between alcohol-related violence and high densities alcohol outlets. Besides, extension of alcohol outlets trading hours has also resulted in problems associated with alcohol intake (NAAA, 2012).

Other factors that influence harmful consumption of alcohol entail alcohol glamorization especially among young Australians, affordability of alcohol and social acceptability of the use of hazardous materials.

Effects and Implications of Alcohol Consumption in Australia

Given that there is a close link between consumption of alcohol and health. Myriads of Australians consume alcohol at harmful levels especially young adults and teenagers. This renders them vulnerable to health deterioration (AMA, 2012). A decrease or increase of 1 l per-capita in every year is linked with a 1.5% decrease or increase of mortality in males. This association has a significant impact on population between the ages 15-29. This places Australia under demonstration of per-capita consumption of alcohol and total mortality. Aside from the positive effects of consumption of alcohol on health as proved by many studies, increment in alcohol consumption at the population-level is linked to population health decline. Therefore, the rates of male mortality in Australia are attributed to per-capita alcohol consumption. This rate is particularly grave amongst young adults (Acton, 2013).

Alcohol Consumption and Related Problems

AIHW (2012) holds, ‘in 2004-05, the cost to the Australian community of alcohol-related social problems was estimated to be $15.3 billion; the majority (71%) was for tangible costs, such as those associated with lost productivity, health, road accidents and crime.’ This means that alcohol and social problems are directly correlated. About 60 disease types and injuries are caused by alcohol. Other social issues such as workplace absenteeism, child abuse and neglect, drunk-driving and violence are also associated with alcohol.

Measures to Address Alcohol Consumption in Australia

AMA (2012) has suggested some of the preventive measures that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to curbing of harmful alcohol consumption. Among others include:

  • Alcohol promotion and marketing should be regulated sovereign from the alcoholic industries and advertisers

  • Policies such as taxation should be carried out feasibly and sanctions for non-compliance should be meaningful

  • Alcohol advertising should be limited in places dominated by teenagers and young adults

  • Licensed venues should be observed closely such that they provide sale signage which specifies the risks associated with harmful consumption of alcohol

  • The volume of alcohol as well as the strength of the alcoholic drinks should be taken into consideration when it comes to taxing as a policy to reduce harmful alcohol consumption

  • Education of the public, schooling teenagers and family education is also a sound measure to address excessive alcohol consumption

  • The Australian government and other stakeholders should tackle the understanding of the public of how certain alcoholic vessels such as beer glasses and wine glasses translate into the measure of standard drinking

  • Self alcohol regulation among young adults

In sum, several actors including the government and other social actors have put some efforts in the addressing of alcohol consumption problem. This is evident in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Table which shows the trend of alcohol consumption over the years. Overall, there has been substantial decline of harmful alcohol consumption in Australia, for instance from 10.04 to 9.88 per capita consumption in the years 2012 and 2013 respectively. However, the current rate still needs serious attention to control alcohol consumption entirely in Australia.

Challenges in the Management

Beside the positive trend of addressing the problem, such measures have faced various limitations and flaws. For instance, taxation has been proven to be one of the effective policies of addressing the problem, yet Australia itself downplays it. As attested by NAAA, taxation as a measure of increasing alcohol price so as to address harmful alcohol consumption has been implemented inconsistently. Alcoholic drinks have been taxed incoherently inconsiderate of their propensity to cause harm and their content strength.

Moreover, self-regulation amongst teenagers as well as young adults is nearly impossible. This is because this category of group is affected heavily by the contemporary world which as outlined earlier is the driver to their alcohol consumption. Briefly, practicability, when it comes to addressing harmful alcohol consumption has not been fully achieved in Australia. Some measures taken are more idealistic as opposed to realistic.

Concept Framework and Research Questions

overnment, Australian Community please choose one case study topic to write A or B 2please choose one case study topic to write A or B 1please choose one case study topic to write A or B






and Non-Government Actors

-Alcohol Pricing and Taxation



-Alcohol Glamorization

-Marketing and Promotion




-Child Neglect

-Child Abuse

-Workplace Absenteeism



-Deaths: High Male Mortality Rate

-Health Retardation


Effects and Implications:

Harmful Alcohol Consumption

please choose one case study topic to write A or B 3

please choose one case study topic to write A or B 4please choose one case study topic to write A or B 5please choose one case study topic to write A or B 6

Australian Interest

please choose one case study topic to write A or B 7please choose one case study topic to write A or B 8

The conceptual framework describes the theories that explain the causes of alcohol consumption overall. According to Ontario (2004), they include: Disease, Biological and Psychological Approaches as explained further in the literature review. These causes when entangled with influencers such as marketing and promotion, alcohol availability and affordability among others influence the level of consumption of alcohol. For instance, if there is availability of alcohol in the Australian market, Australians especially young adults would resort to alcohol drinking most especially when they are influenced by other factors like alcohol glamorization and the digital communication of the contemporary world. Their drinking would ultimately lead to effects such as health retardation among others entangled with implications including violence, school dropping among others. These effects then call for active measures from players: the government, non-government agencies and the community who single-handedly or collectively act to address the harmful alcohol intake by taking the root causes, influencers and effects into consideration, towards the protection of Australian interest (e.g. healthy Australia).

Research Questions

  • What is the nature of alcohol consumption in Australia?

  • What are the causes, effects and related problems of harmful alcohol consumption in Australia?

  • What management steps have been taken to address the problem and how effective have they been?

Secondary Data Analysis: Results and Discussion

Australian Bureau of Statistics has estimated the apparent alcohol consumption based on alcoholic beverage availability in Australia. Overall, total alcohol availability has been fairly increasing substantially throughout the years in Australia. This implies that Australia is at risk of high volume alcohol consumption due to increasing availability of the product.

Beer available for consumption and per capita consumption (2012/2013)

Low Strength

(1.15% and < 3.0%)

Mid Strength

(>3.0% and < 3.5%)

Full Strength (>3.5%)

Litres of Pure Alcohol (‘000 litres)

Per Capita Consumption (Litres)

The table above shows beer available for consumption and per capita consumption of alcohol in Australia in the years 2012 and 2013. It is evident that alcohol volume of full strength beer is higher than the alcohol volume of mid strength and low strength beers. This means that harmful levels of beer is available for Australians which renders them vulnerable to harmful effects and implications associated with alcohol consumption.

Thus, when it comes to the imposition of tax on alcoholic drinks, the government should consider raising taxation rate for full strength beer in this case to reduce their consumption to harmful levels.

Western Australia is one of the areas that has experienced various hospitalizations as a result of alcohol especially from 2007 to 2012. Episodes of alcohol-related treatment rose in 2007 from 48% in every 10,000 population to 51% in 2012. It is during the same span that people sought counselling and information over the same. This means that as availability of alcohol increases, the more people consume it and the more the harm which result in hospitalization. Thus, management should focus on both causes and factors influencing harmful alcohol consumption (Government of Western Australia, 2012/2013).

please choose one case study topic to write A or B 9

(Government of Western Australia, 2012/2013)

The table below shows the total alcohol available for consumption and per capita consumption- pure alcohol of persons 15 years and above. From the table, one can tell that beer is highly consumable amongst the population in question. Teenager and young adults are thus highly susceptible to effects of alcohol and related social problems.

With time, teenagers and young adults are likely to be influenced by the aspects of the contemporary world such as the digital technology which is a platform for communication on matters concerning alcohol glamorization (AMA, 2012). This is why full strength alcohol is consumed at high volume rate.

Alcoholic Drinks

Litres of Pure Alcohol (‘000 l)

Per Capita Consumption (l)

Total Beer

Total Wine

Total Spirits and Ready to Drink Beverages

Total Cider

Total Alcohol

(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012-13)


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the volume of alcohol consumption in Australia has reduced throughout the years. However, the apparent level is far from satisfaction. The levels are still ranked as high especially the full strength alcohol consumption. Australians are as at high risk of harmful alcohol consumption effects. Ontario (2004) elaborated the overall causes of alcohol consumption. These theoretical causes are entangled with factors such as marketing and promotion of alcohol, pricing and taxation, alcohol availability and affordability. These are the drivers that influence excessive harmful/ low level alcohol consumption among youth and teenagers.

The most identified related problems include drunk-driving, child neglect, child abuse, workplace absenteeism and violence. Aside from the indirect effects include the direct effects such as health retardation and mortality rate especially among male young adults. In terms of management, the players should consider the nature of alcohol consumption in Australia and some of the effects that may affect the policies employed such as taxation. Most especially, the government should focus on increasing the tax rate for full strength alcoholic drinks so as to reduce the harmful level of intake throughout Australia.


Acton, Q (2013). Issues in Addiction and Eating Disorders: 2013 Edition. Scholarly Editions.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. 43070DO001 Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia, 2012-13. Retrieved 4th April 2014.

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW, 2012). Australia’s Health 2012: The Thirteenth Biennial Health Report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. AIHW.

Australian Medical Association (AMA, 2012). Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol-related Harms-2012. Retrieved 21st August 2014 from

Government of Western Australia (2012/2013). Drug and Alcohol Office Annual Report 2012/2013. Retrieved 24th August 2014 from$file/908.pdf

McDonald, D (2012). The Extent and Nature of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use, and Related Harms in the Australian Capital Territory, Edition 4. Wamboin: Social Research &Evaluation Pty Ltd. Retrieved 21st August 2014 from

National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA, 2012). Reducing Harm from Alcohol: Creating a Healthier Australia. Retrieved 21st August 2014 from

Ontario, O (2004). Alcohol Problems and Approaches: Theories, Evidence and Northern Practice. National Aboriginal Health Organization. Retrieved 23rd August 2014 from