DHB members want alcohol abuse action

KATE NEWTON
Last updated 12:14 06/12/2011

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Members of Wellington's district health boards have united to denounce New Zealand's drinking culture, saying health service staff despair at the "entirely avoidable costs".

The letter to The Dominion Post, signed by 14 of the 18 members of Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast District Health Boards, says there needs to be a "community-wide conversation".

"As board members of two DHBs, we constantly see the cost of New Zealand's drinking culture - in poor health and in entirely avoidable costs. Emergency department staff despair at alcohol-related presentations.

"Community agencies battle with other costs - broken relationships, poor work records, car crashes, domestic violence, money problems and heart-breaking wasted potential."

Communities should take ownership of the problem by modelling good behaviour and getting involved in regulation, such as liquor licensing applications.

"We strongly support communities like Porirua asking questions about alcohol. We support councils developing local alcohol plans and policies to limit the availability of alcohol.

The Cannon's Creek community in Porirua has objected against the relicensing of a local liquor store and the manager's certificate.

"Let's get involved with local applications for new licences and responding when the proposed legislation comes back before Parliament," the letter says.

A parliamentary select committee proposed 130 changes to alcohol legislation in August this year, following a report from the Law Commission on New Zealand's drinking culture.

They included tightening up on where supermarkets can display alcohol, and banning convenience stores from selling alcohol.

However, many of the Law Commission's original recommendations - including raising the purchase age to 20 and lowering the blood-alcohol driving limits - were rejected.

That prompted critics to say the proposed changes are insubstantial and do not go far enough.

The DHB members who signed the letter were:

Wayne Guppy (deputy chair, Hutt Valley DHB)
Peter Glensor (deputy chair, Capital & Coast DHB)
Judith Aitken
Katy Austin
David Bassett
Barbara Donaldson
Peter Douglas
Margaret Faulkner
Ken Laban
David Ogden
Iris Pahau
Helene Ritchie
Darrin Sykes
John Terris

Those who did not were:

Virginia Hope (joint chair, Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast DHB)
Keith Hindle
David Choat
Debbie Chin (Crown monitor)

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- The Dominion Post

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