Understanding local government responses to alcohol-related harm

Miranda Guizzo, Bernadette Ward, Claire Wilkinson, Hassan Vally, Sandra Kuntsche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Introduction: Local governments (LG) have a key role in reducing alcohol-related harm, yet, Australian research investigating this is limited. This study aimed to explore Australian LGs' role in alcohol policy by investigating how LGs respond to alcohol-related harm and what influences their responses. Methods: A collective case study approach guided two-stage purposive sampling. Victorian metropolitan and regional LGs were invited to participate based on alcohol-related harm profiles. Officers within LGs with alcohol policy knowledge participated in semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed deductively using a pre-existing alcohol policy framework and inductively using thematic analysis. Results: Nine officers from eight LGs participated. LG responses to alcohol-related harm predominately included bans on alcohol in public spaces, licensed premises planning and alcohol-free youth events. Half implemented liquor forums/accords and most implemented education programs in sporting clubs, schools or workplaces. In some LGs, the reduction of alcohol-related harm was not considered a priority. Key influences on alcohol initiatives were legislation, the composition of licensed venues, extent of alcohol-related harms, resources and priorities, and stakeholder feedback. Discussion and Conclusions: While particular policies were widespread, participating LGs varied greatly in activity in, and responses to, reducing alcohol-related harm. LGs reported varied influences on their responses. LGs recognised the long-term health harms of alcohol in their health planning documents, however, most prioritised interventions targeting short-term amenity and safety harms. Changes to Victorian planning and liquor licensing legislation to give additional powers to LGs and providing pre-developed alcohol programs with dedicated funding should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-770
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • alcohol-related harm
  • Australia
  • local government
  • policy
  • qualitative

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