The West

Call for action on alcohol

WA's best-known child health researcher Fiona Stanley has weighed into the State election campaign, calling for tougher policies on alcohol which she says will do more to curb child abuse, violence and crime than anything else.

Professor Stanley, patron of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, has asked Premier Colin Barnett and other politicians to give police more resources to prevent harm and injuries from alcohol rather just mopping up its negative effects.

With her co-convenor on the WA Alcohol and Youth Action Coalition, Mike Daube, she wants police to have extra powers to prevent liquor outlets selling to minors, laws to reduce children's exposure to alcohol advertising and well-resourced mandatory alcohol and drug education in schools.

Professor Stanley also wants a program to reduce foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in Aboriginal babies and improved early diagnosis and intervention.

"Action on alcohol will protect our children and do more to reduce child abuse, violence, crime and the road toll than anything else our governments might do," she said.

"Law and order policies deal with the end product and the police themselves say that we need action to prevent these problems.

"We need a commitment from all parties to a strong policy aimed at reducing the toll of alcohol problems and the culture among so many young people of drinking to get drunk."

Professor Daube said a survey of 1500 WA adults showed more than nine out of 10 were concerned about alcohol-related violence. A similar number wanted regular alcohol and drug education in schools.

"We have seen nothing so far in the major parties' programs about a problem 98 per cent of the community are worried about and there is massive support for action," he said.

"There seems to be a conspiracy of silence among the major parties about measures that will reduce our alcohol problems."

Professor Daube said policies were needed to prevent harm, particularly given evidence that increased access to alcohol led to more social and health problems.

The West Australian

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