Alcohol restrictions proposed to tackle family violence

Rachael Ward |

Molly Ticehurst was one of 31 Australian women who’ve died violently so far this year.
Molly Ticehurst was one of 31 Australian women who’ve died violently so far this year.

There’s a fresh push to ban alcohol delivery late at night and force customers to wait two hours before receiving orders with hopes such “modest” changes could reduce family violence.

Community organisations and researchers are calling for reforms to alcohol laws as part of the federal government’s rapid review into family violence prevention, sparked by national outrage over the deaths of Australian women in violent circumstances this year.

Ensuring all state and territory liquor laws include the prevention of family violence as a primary objective was also raised at a Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education roundtable in Fremantle, WA, on Wednesday.

Increasing funding for frontline services, better resourcing for perpetrator programs and a push to better understand links between alcohol and violence are also part of their submission.

The foundation’s chief executive Caterina Giorgi said it was time to make alcohol companies accountable, calling out the “problematic” way data is used to target customers and marketing that links alcohol with masculinity.

A man drinking a beer
Alcohol companies are being urged to play a part in reducing domestic violence. (Daniel Munoz/AAP PHOTOS)

“When alcohol is more available and accessible, violence increases and right now alcohol is more available than it ever has been, with every phone being a bottle shop,” she said.

Former Neighbours actor and family violence survivor-advocate Kym Valentine said the nation has a duty to minimise the minefields many Australians face in their own homes every day.

“So many victim-survivors will tell you how they fear for their safety more after the sun goes down, particularly after their abuser has been drinking, and the evidence reflects this,” Ms Valentine said.

The former Chair of Victoria’s Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council is pushing for a ban on selling alcohol takeaway or by delivery service after 10pm and a delay of at least two hours between someone ordering grog and receiving it.

She said it was vital to further regulate alcohol and gambling, which she likened to a bomb ready to explode in some households.

“What we’re asking for now are relatively modest changes, but ones that would play a huge part in reducing the rate and severity of family violence,” Ms Valentine said.

Counting Dead Women Australia says 31 Australian women have died in violent circumstances this year while the Australian government says one in four women and one in eight men have experienced family violence.

It comes as new research revealed globally there are “scarce” interventions to protect women from alcohol-related harms, with many experiencing direct, indirect and hidden harms from a male intimate partner’s problematic drinking.

Lead author Ingrid Wilson said many of the women involved in her study, published in peer-reviewed journal Global Health Action, were doing everything they could to restrict alcohol from their homes.

“Men’s drinking contributes to conflict, affects family functioning,” the La Trobe University Adjunct Research Fellow and Singapore Institute of Technology assistant professor told the forum.

“Women suffer psychological distress and mental health harm, they face shame and embarrassment and social isolation.

“We can all agree especially in Australia that men’s violence against women has reached a tipping point and for some women, (a partner’s) drinking played a huge role in their experience of violence.”