In Summary

A collaborative research project is aiming to find evidence-based, practical solutions to help minimise the alcohol related damage inflicted on Victorian communities.

Swinburne University of Technology is working with Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, the Department of Health and seven Melbourne councils on the multi-disciplinary projects, led by Professor Barry O’Mahony, Chair of Swinburne’s Department of Marketing, Tourism and Social Impact.

Areas of research include a de facto retail audit of the national beer market, the impact of packaged liquor in the fast-growing South-East Metropolitan region and a comprehensive investigation into how local councils are working on alcohol-related issues in their communities.

A retail audit on Coles and Woolworths shopping websites will determine the price, promotion and sales strategy of major beer brands in Australia.

“Early indicators are that people are being pushed to buy and drink more,” Professor O’Mahony said .

He said current pricing structures meant consumers were being punished for not buying in bulk.

The project will also look at ways to assist councils to present a comprehensive view to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) when opposing appeals for packaged liquor licences that they believe may cause harm to communities.

Professor O’Mahony said data obtained from Ambulance Victoria and Victoria Police will be used to show alcohol-related incidents around liquor outlets.

“This data will be mapped using a geo-coded map and, when these are then overlaid against government maps that show socio-economic disadvantaged areas, we can identify hot spots.”

The information is then put into a risk indicator tool, developed to get an understanding of the potential harm of another bottle shop in the region.

All of these research links will come together with a major study into how local councils are tackling the issues of alcohol consumption.

This study is the focus of an Australian Research Council (ARC) linkage grant application, under review, to be announced this year and aims to develop a model that can be used to manage alcohol-related issues.

A further case study will then be carried out in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, assessing the Department of Health’s interventionist approaches.

 “We are trying to develop a series of studies that can help in this environment to build on some of the work that has already been done to try to solve these problems. A new perspective on this can be part of the solution. There is potential for social benefit,” Professor O’Mahony said . 

Read more about this research in the latest edition of Venture.