A Hard Road: Driving Local Action against Alcohol Related Problems in a Rural Town

Julaine Allan, Lynda Bowtells, Jehan Zeb


Context is important in developing strategies to address alcohol related violence. Knowledge of local conditions is critical to action in rural areas. The aim of this study was to gather information about context specific alcohol related problems experienced by frontline workers in a regional centre to inform the local alcohol action plan.

Frontline workers were invited to participate in one of five focus group discussions that investigated problems experienced as a result of other people’s alcohol use. Alcohol related problems were more frequently associated with time periods than any single group in the community. Social media was used to incite arguments between groups in different venues during the lock-out periods. The focus groups identified that the location of licensed premises and a taxi rank; and previous relationships between protagonists were the key contextual factors causing alcohol related problems.

A second taxi rank was identified as a useful local management strategy. Supply reduction was suggested as a key factor in long term solutions to alcohol related problems in rural towns. The local liquor accord did not want to reduce supply of alcohol by closing late night venues earlier.

Local action to reduce alcohol related problems will be limited to pragmatic solutions because supply reduction is unacceptable to those in the business of selling alcohol.

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