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The ANCD was established in 1998 as the principal advisory body to the Prime Minister and the Federal Government on drug and alcohol policy. It plays a critical role in ensuring the views of the many sectors involved in addressing drug and alcohol problems, as well as the community, are heard.

The ANCD membership includes members from both the non-government and government drug, alcohol and related sectors including treatment, medicine, research, law enforcement, Indigenous health, local government, education, mental health, consumers, and the magistracy from around Australia. It is through this diverse membership, that the ANCD has the capacity to access an extensive range of expertise throughout the sector and the community.

The ANCD provides independent, strategic advice to government on priorities for policy development, emerging licit and illicit drug use issues and measures by which these can be addressed. An important component of the ANCD’s work is to also ensure that policies, strategies and directions in the drug and alcohol field are consistent with the National Drug Strategy.

As media reports of alcohol fuelled violence fill our nightly news bulletins and newspapers it is worth recalling the ongoing trauma endured by the family of Thomas Kelly from that fateful night when he died, to the court case to the ongoing loss they suffer. In that same week that the court case caused headlines the all too common ingredients of alcohol and a fatal drunken blow crushed yet another family. This time the grief spread all the way to Brazil.

Since these horrific incidents occurred for two families, there have been scores of incidents of drunken violence on our streets. One man lays in a coma, many continue to receive treatment for injuries from drunken assaults and yet much of the carnage is still unreported. How some can believe that these incidents have always occurred and that media reporting is now overstating the extent of alcohol-related problems is simply a view without foundation.

The response to date is typical. It is the usual mix of outrage over the behaviour and sympathy for those victims. As is also customary, this has amounted to little real change. Many only want changes that won’t affect them personally. Industries that promote and sell alcohol don’t want their profits affected. Critically, governments act as though the public support for effective policies is superficial and driven by zealots. This is typified by State Government responses across the country currently being overly focussing on the sentencing of assailants rather than reducing the likelihood of such needless assaults and deaths occurring in the first place. Just ask yourself how many heavily intoxicated people tonight will actually stop to think of the punishment they may receive in court months later if they throw that punch?

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