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Responses to risk: Public submissions on Australian alcohol guidelines for low-risk drinking

Authors

  • CLAIRE WILKINSON

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, Eastern Health, Victoria
    2. Centre for Health and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
      Claire Wilkinson BASc (Hons), Research Fellow and PhD Candidate. Ms Claire Wilkinson, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, Eastern Health, 54-62 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Vic. 3065, Australia. Tel: +61 3 8413 8418; Fax: +61 3 9416 3420; E-mail: clairew@turningpoint.org.au
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Claire Wilkinson BASc (Hons), Research Fellow and PhD Candidate. Ms Claire Wilkinson, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, Eastern Health, 54-62 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Vic. 3065, Australia. Tel: +61 3 8413 8418; Fax: +61 3 9416 3420; E-mail: clairew@turningpoint.org.au

Abstract

Introduction and Aims.In 2007 the National Health and Medical Research Council issued the draft of the revised Australian alcohol guidelines. The document presented guidelines explicitly in terms of risk. This paper seeks to explore the public response to this document by analysing the submissions received during the 60 day period for public feedback.

Methods.One-hundred and three submissions were reviewed. Considerations of what interests were reflected in submissions and how interest groups responded to the framing of risk were examined.

Results.Submissions were received from individuals and organisations. Analysis revealed a range of views and rhetoric. Temperance interests wanted the guidelines' thresholds to be lower; the industry critiqued the evidence base as flawed and also argued that the public was unlikely to listen to low-risk drinking messages; submissions from public health groups and government wanted a greater rationale for the guidelines and were also concerned with the dropping of a second differentiation of a higher-risk level; personal testimonies supported the risk assessments based on personal experiences; and those working in clinical service provision expressed concern about the reception of the guidelines among client groups.

Discussion and Conclusions.The diversity of views expressed seems to have had little effect in the revision of the guidelines. Disseminating the low-risk drinking guidelines message poses many challenges. [Wilkinson C. Responses to risk: Public submissions on Australian alcohol guidelines for low-risk drinking. Drug Alcohol Rev 2012;31:162–169]

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