Sometimes it’s not the big picture that motivates us to change but something smaller – specifically children.
A petition has been raised to protect children from alcohol advertising/sponsorship in sport through change.org. It would be great to complement this with further restrictions to the advertising of gambling with sport.
As a community, there must be other ways to raise revenue for professional and amateur sporting clubs, than relying on funding from alcohol and gambling.
Change can be empowering and rewarding. Not simple. Not easy. Signing a petition is a start.
I openly support the alcohol industry —grape growers, farmers, winemakers and the many hard-working and talented people (especially inspiring small businesses) that provide us with a selection of quality wines, beers and other alcohol. However, this is not about enjoying the odd tipple. It is developing awareness about our drinking culture and behaviour and making good choices—for ourselves, our families and broader community. Why has sport become associated with alcohol?
The risks associated with excessive drinking to our health and impact on communities through increased violence cannot be ignored. Two drinks per day is the current recommendation for the maximum safe levels of alcohol use. More than 5,500 lives are lost every year and more than 157,000 people hospitalised according to FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education). FARE reports that 70,000 Australians are victims of alcohol-related assaults, including 24,000 victims of alcohol-related domestic violence a year.
We can improve. There was a time that drink driving was almost accepted in our attitudes but thankfully we as a community have been able to make that change – with the support of some great community campaigns such as the ‘bloody idiot’ series of advertising from the Transport Accident Commission.
Recently I attended a wine festival with my family, as a designated driver, I was given a free ticket and coffee/tea and water and enjoyed some great music and the festive environment. The event is a lot of fun and gives so much to the community and local community organisations with the influx of visitors to the country area. Yes, we as a community have a way to go but we have also come a long way. It is not easy finding the right balance between enjoying alcohol and levels of consumption.
Cigarette advertising at sporting events and smoking in pubs and public places used to be commonplace but we as a community have been able to turn that around —and significantly reduce the levels of smoking in Australia—even though there is still some way to go. Campaign such as QUIT and organisations such as VicHealth and the Cancer Council have contributed greatly to our knowledge about preventative health measures and the impact of smoking. VicHealth was established using cigarette taxes to ban outdoor tobacco advertising, fund anti-smoking campaigns and buy out the tobacco sponsorship of sport and the arts.
Currently more than 2.5 million adults smoke on a daily basis in Australia (about 14.7 %) with some more vulnerable communities with much higher rates according to Government statistics. There are no easy answers and multiple strategies are required to support individuals and communities to be empowered to make change.
Thank you to Steve Ella (and Kristen) for identifying the links between alcohol and sport – and reminding us that sometimes it’s the little things that motivate us to make change. Steve is Director of FARE and a former State of Origin player. Check out a thought-provoking opinion piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the issue.