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Addressing the harm from alcohol across Aotearoa

Ruru Parirau. Photo Credit: Healthy Families Rotorua.

Alcohol has an undeniable impact – tamariki and rangatahi in families where an adult drinks heavily are known to be vulnerable to a variety of negative effects, including family harm. Aside from alcohol contributing to health conditions, preventable chronic disease and family harm, it also contributes highly to road traffic injuries and other unintended injuries and falls.

Healthy Families NZ location teams actively work in their communities to reduce the harm from alcohol and are creating a movement for change. This movement brings together system partners, local leaders and communities to create effective locally-led solutions. Here are just a few ways we are working in this space: Healthy Families Ōtautahi have embarked on a “Healthy Sports Clubs” journey, exploring how to support clubs and Regional Sport Organisations to look at healthier funding and sponsorship options outside of alcohol. The team worked alongside sports clubs members and supporters around what a "healthy sports club" means to them, as well as how change could happen to improve the anti-social behaviour that comes from alcohol within sports clubs. Healthy Families Waitākere developed a briefing paper for West Auckland’s Licensing Trusts on international best practice for reducing alcohol-related harm. Initiatives included limiting opening hours, disestablishing single sales, reducing advertising and store visibility (particularly around schools) and phasing out tobacco products. Of the initiatives presented to The Trusts, three of the five have been actioned and implemented: Reducing store-front advertising, disestablishing single sales of alcohol, and phasing out tobacco.

Healthy Families Rotorua have designed Rūrū Parirau, a kaupapa to explore the use of tikanga Māori to reduce alcohol related harm and encourage safer, healthier environments for whānau. Three videos featuring Māori tane who share their stories of the negative impact alcohol has had on their lives, but also highlight pivotal moments when they changed the narrative and are now leading positive lives and become champions of Rūrū Parirau. Several reports show that Southland has the highest incidence of alcohol-related harm of any region in the country. Healthy Families Invercargill, alongside system partners set out to talk to parents and teenagers about alcohol and when they did, they found that many people were unaware of how prevalent the drinking culture is in Southland. The “Are Your Blinders On?” kaupapa has given parents and caregivers the opportunity to connect, and feel empowered to engage with other parents, while facilitating an increased awareness of safe practices around teen social occasions and alcohol use. Wellington Rugby League, with support from Healthy Families Hutt Valley, are changing the lives of league players, whānau and communities through implementing alcohol-free sidelines at games to begin shifting New Zealand’s engrained culture of alcohol and sport.

Local movements are clearly linked to innovative outcomes and positive changes where alcohol is less accessible and less available, marketing and sponsorship of alcohol is controlled, environments support low risk drinking and community safety and wellbeing is enhanced. By changing alcohol behaviour, disrupting the alcohol system and creating environments which support low-risk drinking, we all can make the greatest impact to reduce the harm caused by alcohol in our communities.


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