(Transcript from World News Australia)
A new report has found heavy drinking among parents is having a devastating impact on Australian families.
It’s found that more than one-fifth of Australian children are in some way adversely affected by the drinking of others – usually a parent or carer.
Ellie Laing reports.
The report is called “Hidden harm”.
For good reason.
Because behind closed doors across the country, one-million children are affected, neglected, and damaged by the drinking of people around them.
The study was launched in Sydney by family violence campaigner and Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty.
“The statistics are really, crushing. And it’s really this valuable research that gives us the tools to understand what’s going on in average households.”
Rosie Batty’s son Luke was beaten to death by his father.
She’s joined calls for governments to stand up to the liquor lobby and tackle the hidden epidemic.
“At the end of the day we have to look at some measures. We can’t just continue to bury our head in the sand and say this is not a problem, because it is an enormous problem. And we all have to take some responsibility, particularly if we are responsible for people in our care.”
The report follows up on an initial report from 2008, drawing on data from child protection services, surveys and interviews with families affected by alcohol abuse.
It estimates that more than 10,000 children are already within the child protection system because of a parent or carer’s problematic drinking.
It also finds that damage caused by alcohol persists over time.
Of the adult respondents experiencing alcohol-related problems in 2008 – 50 per cent were still being harmed in 2011.
Over the same period, 35 per cent of children were also unable to escape the abuse.
Michael Thorne from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education says it highlights the magnitude of the problem.
“Nobody can deny that the kids that are hurt as the consequence of other people’s drinking, particularly their carers, shouldn’t serve as the basis of government action.”
Michael Thorne says policies to address the problem can actually be really simple.
He says it starts by restricting access to alcohol – limiting the number of liquor outlets, putting up the price of alcoholic drinks, and imposing earlier closing times and lock outs on pubs and clubs.
“What we’ve seen in Australia over the last 25 years, is a significant increase in trading hours and the number of liquor outlets, and this is contributing to the violence on the streets and the violence in the homes.”
Mr Thorne praises the New South Wales government for already taking moves to restrict trading hours.
But says there’s plenty more that can be done.
“Frankly the weakness that governments have shown in the face of pressure from the liquor industy is outrageous. It is time for them to act. The policy prescription has been laid out for them time and time again. It is not a difficult one, it is not a complex one, they just need to act on it.”