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14 April, 2022

Alcohol abuse tops concerns

CONCERN over alcohol and drug abuse is almost double in our region as the national average, according to research by the Salvation Army on social justice issues.

By Robyn Holmes

Photo | Dreamstime

In an Australian first, people from all demographics across every state and territory contributed to The Salvation Army’s National Social Justice Stocktake Report via a survey asking which concerns were weighing on communities and how these issues would impact people’s decisions during the federal election. 

In the Kennedy electorate, 70.5 per cent of those surveyed identified alcohol and drug misuse as their top social policy concern – significantly above the national average of 42.6 per cent. 

Family violence was also a significant concern for the electorate, with 48.6 per cent of participants identifying it as a concern which is 13.2 per cent greater than the national average. 

Housing affordability was a key social justice concern for those in Kennedy, estimated to have a social housing shortfall of 4000 dwellings, representing 6.5 per cent of the electorate population. 

“There is a vocal element in the community that despairs there is not enough being done about the issues and injustices going on around them in their everyday lives,” Salvation Army’s Captain Stuart Glover said. 

“They want to be more active in initiating change but feel powerless. 

“So, instead of just providing findings, we’ve tried to help alleviate that sense of hopelessness by also outlining practical solutions. 

“We firmly believe that every social justice issue can be both addressed and actioned.” 

According to the report, residents in Kennedy were overwhelmingly concerned with alcohol and drug misuse. 

“Research by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that people living in regional and remote areas were significantly more likely than their counterparts in major cities to drink alcohol daily (8 per cent compared with 5 per cent) and at a level that put them at long-term risk of harm (21 per cent compared with 15 per cent),” the report said. 

“Similarly, family violence was also a significant concern for the rural electorate of Kennedy. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has identified that rates of family violence are higher in regional, rural and remote areas than in urban areas.” 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage was a more prominent concern in Kennedy when compared to the state and national averages. 

For more information on the stocktake, go to  www.salvationarmy.org.au/socialjusticestocktake

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