News & Views

The Newsletter of Alcohol Healthwatch

Goff Meets On Public Drinking

Recently Mary Gush, the Otara Town Centre Manager, in conjunction with Alcohol Health-watch hosted a meeting between the Minister of Justice, Phil Goff and representatives of the Otara Community Network, Manukau City Council and the local MP Ross Robertson to discuss the problem of public drinking in the Town Centre.

The aim of the meeting was to raise 'the issue of drinking in public places' and look at ways of changing the legislation so that Manukau City and other councils can gazette public areas 'alcohol free' for periods longer than the current 12 hours. The Otara community together with Manukau City Council have taken the lead in a campaign to give local authorities more discretion to set up 'alcohol free' zones within their areas.

Like in many other parts of New Zealand public drinking has become a persistent problem in the Otara Town Centre. "It started with people drinking at night in the car parks outside the nightclubs and bars, and more recently it has developed into a problem of people drinking in the town centre during the day, particularly outside the TAB", says Mary Gush. "People regularly come up to me and say what are you doing about this problem!"

One response of the Town Centre was to establish the Otara Centre Ambassadors.
The Ambassadors' job description covers a range of roles including providing security. However, because drinking in a public place is not against the law, the Ambassadors and the Police have been restricted in their response. Mary Gush and the Ambassadors would like to be more proactive in their approach to the problem.

"The Town Centre is a place where people come to meet and talk. It is like our home", says David Vainui of the Ambassadors, "we don't want people sitting around getting drunk and making the centre an undesirable place to visit. It also isn't good for the people doing the drinking".

Those attending the meeting outlined some of the problems associated with public drinking in the Town Centre and the detrimental impact it was having. Phil Goff acknowledged that problems associated with drinking in public places had become a national issue. He had asked Justice Department officials to look at ways of dealing with it, and at this stage the Minister favoured giving council's more discretion under the Local Government Act.

The Local Government Act is currently under review. Alcohol Healthwatch has made a submission to the review suggesting that local authorities be given greater discretion to create "alcohol free" areas under a power of general competence. 

Photo: Mary Gush and David Vainui
Right: Mary Gush, Otara Town Centre Manager and David Vainui of the Otara Ambassadors

New Director For Alcohol Healthwatch
Rebecca Williams has been appointed Director of Alcohol Healthwatch. Rebecca brings a wide range of experience to the position, having a background in education, event management and information consultancy. Over the last three years her focus, has been on injury prevention, as the Safe Routes to School Facilitator at SafeKids. Rebecca replaces Pauline Proud who was interim Director at Alcohol Healthwatch for six months.

Manurewa YAA Project

Organising an alcohol free Street Art, Dance and Music Competition in Manurewa, scheduled for 22 and 23 June, is the latest challenge for the Manukau Youth Access To Alcohol Project. The project was set up as part of an Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) initiative to involve local communities following changes to the Sale of Liquor Act in 1999. The Manurewa Project has been actively supported by Alcohol Healthwatch.

With the lowering of the legal drinking age to 18 years and the introduction of a 'brave new world' of alcohol availability following changes to the legislation, ALAC established a number of initiatives aimed at informing young people about the effects of alcohol and changes to the law. One of these initiatives was to establish the 'Youth Access To Alcohol Project'.

It was intended that the project would co-opt existing community groups rather than establish new ones and highlights the importance ALAC places on communities finding solutions to local alcohol problems. ALAC's role was in bringing the different community groups together so that they could share ideas. Initially eleven communities were to be involved in the project.

The Manurewa Youth Access to Alcohol Project was based on the Manukau Liquor Liaison Group and included, the Manurewa Police Area Controller, the Manukau Licencing Inspector, Alcohol Healthwatch's Eldene Bradley, (the Last Drink Survey Co-ordinator for Manukau) and students from Manurewa. More recently the group has grown to include representatives from Safer Manukau, Keep Manukau Beautiful, OMAC and students from the Manukau area.

The initial project set out a plan of potential target areas that included retailers, young people, on-suppliers and parents. At the instigation of the students, the project has become closely involved with two youth events. The first was running an After-ball function with James Cook High school students, and the second has been in organising and promoting an Alcohol Free Street Art, Music and Dance Competition involving Manukau City high schools. The competition is seen as an opportunity for young people to show-case their skills.

The After-ball function came about as a result of problems associated with previous After-balls organised solely by students. The After-ball was held with input and support from the Police, the Liquor Inspector and others in the group. The students were allowed to bring a limited amount of alcohol to the event. "The event proved to be very successful,"according to June Walden, the Manukau Liquor Licensing Inspector and a James Cook High School parent. "There was heaps of food, gate crashers were banned, and there were no harmful incidents following the event." It is hoped that this year the After-ball will be co-ordinated between parents, students and the school.
Following the success of the After-ball the students requested the street art, music and dance competition. For the students at James Cook High School art, dance and music were seen as areas in which the school excelled. As a result they have challenged a number of high schools to participate in the events - Rosehill College, Papakura High, Aorere College, Papatoetoe High, Tangaroa College and Hillary College have accepted the challenge.

The MYAA event is aimed at proving to the young people that they can have a good time without alcohol.

FANZ Appoints A New National Co-ordinator
And Says Farewell To Christine Rogan

The Fetal Alcohol New Zealand (FANZ) has appointed Leanne Beard as its new National Co-ordinator. Leanne has worked in the areas of mental health and alcohol treatment. She has a B.A in Education and a background in community development relating to disability issues. Leanne takes over the role of National Co-ordinator from Christine Rogan who has left the FANZ Trust to return to Alcohol Healthwatch.

Christine was part of the original steering committee that set up FANZ and helped to co-ordinate the first national conference in April 1998. Following this Christine became the FANZ National Coordinator. "My role at FANZ was to ensure three key objectives were fulfilled. These were to promote and guide good practice in managing the disability of FAS/FAE, to provide information advocacy and support for those directly effected and to build upon and to develop health promotion strategies." Christine says she leaves the trust "knowing it is growing in strength and independence". The establishment of FANZ has greatly lifted the profile of an often misunderstood and sensitive subject.

FANZ has also moved offices. It is now located at the Parent and Family Centre, Cnr Springs Rd & Princess St, Onehunga. PO Box 13385, Onehunga, Auckland - telephone 09 636 0351


Group Stops Casino Bar
Photo: Ann Skelly and Wendy Mackereth
Residents Ann Skelly and Wendy Mackereth on proposed site.

The actions of three Sandringham women, Wendy Mackereth, Ann Skelly and Linda Gwilliam, in rallying the local community together, has successfully stopped a casino bar from being established in their local shops. Their initiatives drew considerable community support and has resulted in the establishment of the Sandringham Neighbourhood Association. Alcohol Healthwatch was able to provide support and expert advice in planning, liquor licensing and aspects of community development.

The decision by the three women to 'take on' the city council and the developer over a proposed casino bar, was based on their concerns over the impact the bar would have on the street and the wider area.

"The opening of a casino bar would have been detrimental to Sandringham and would have undermined the community. This is an area whose future is borderline, it can go either way. We want to see the area progress positively. The opening of the tavern would have had considerable impact on the street and the future development", says Wendy Mackereth.

"We considered the proposal would have been inappropriate for the area, so we were pleased that the developer withdrew his planning application. A tavern was a discretionary activity, so we had to put pressure on the council to ensure that it was dealt with as a notified application", says Ann Skelly.

The women's views were strongly supported by the community and the Sandringham shopkeepers many of whom are Muslims. Linda Gwilliam's links with the local Edendale school also proved invaluable as the school was able to provide a link to the many parents in the area.

Together the women organised two public meetings, wrote media releases, featured on the 'Holmes Show', lobbied Auckland City Council and its planning staff and finally got the developer to withdraw his application. Instead, the developer plans to put a cafe/restaurant on the site. The Sandringham Neighbourhood Association will have the duel aims of promoting the development of the area and having a watchdog role. Collectively the women demonstrated a text book example of community development.

Alcohol Healthwatch was delighted to be able to support the Sandringham community with their campaign. Currently the government is undertaking a Gambling Review. Alcohol Healthwatch is becoming increasingly concerned at the proliferation of casino bars in suburban areas.

The long awaited National Alcohol Strategy launched

The National Strategy was launched by Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Health and Minister of Maori, on May 19th.

The strategy has been prepared by the Alcohol Advisory Council The strategy identifies three key focuses: supply control, demand reduction and harm reduction. Much of the media focus was on a proposal to increase taxes! The Strategy does not seek a ban on alcohol advertising, nor does it recommend health and safety messages on alcohol products.

GALA Sticks Chins 'Out'

A decision by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB) raises questions about the Liquor Advertising Code, while GALA (Group Against Liquor Advertising) looks for new committee members!

The decision by the ASCB not to uphold GALA's complaint about the 'Lion Red Chin-Heads' highlights the inadequacies of the liquor advertising code and the self-regulatory complaints system" says Dr Viola Palmer, Chairperson of GALA.

The Lion Red Chin-Heads are three highly stylized upside down chins who have been part of a highly visible campaign to advertise Lion Red. "We specifically complained about a billboard, stating that the cartoon-like attributes of the Chins-Heads appealed to young people. However, in their wisdom the ASCB ruled that the billboard didn't appeal to 'young people in particular' ", said Dr Viola Palmer.

While the ASCB interpretation may reflect the wording of the codes, it was certainly contrary to their spirit. In the past the Advertising Standards Authority and the ASCB have been at 'pains' to convince government that the codes would be interpreted in the spirit in which they were intended and that advertising shouldn't have strong appeal to minors.
Ironically the decision also accepted Lion Nathan's counter intuitive analysis of its own research. This showed that 98% of the 100 under18's interviewed, recognised the 'Chins Heads' advertisement, while two thirds associated the advertisement with the sale of alcohol. GALA has decided to appeal the decision by the ASCB. According to Dr Palmer it can feel like one is "taking part in a regulatory charade".

While the Liquor Advertising Code has controlled the worst excesses of alcohol advertising, it has failed to tackle the heart of the problem. Alcohol advertising is used to recruit young drinkers and glamourise alcohol. Like tobacco advertising, GALA believes alcohol advertising creates an environment that is bad for people's health. GALA actively lobbies to remove broadcast alcohol advertising and to stop other forms of alcohol advertising such as billboards. GALA has also advocated for alcohol health warnings on beverage containers. GALA also considers that an 'unholy alliance' has developed between sport and the alcohol industry.

"The liquor industry recognises the importance of liquor advertising and targets huge amounts of money to fund its campaigns. The industry is dependent on targeting and recruiting young drinkers as well as focusing on vulnerable sections of the community", says Dr Palmer. Currently, GALA is looking for new committee members. The group meets every 2 months in Auckland. For information please contact Roger Eccles (09) 520 7038.

(Editors Note: Alcohol Healthwatch has also made a complaint to ASCB against the 'Lion Red Chins Heads'. The complaint relates to the 'Chins at sea' advertisement.)


Alcohol Healthwatch Team 2001
Rebecca Williams Director 520-7035
Christine Rogan Health Promotion 520-7037
Suzanne Lopes Financial Officer 520-7039
Eldene Bradley Last DrinkSurvey 520-7039
(Co-ordinator Manukau and Franklin)
Kaio Rivers Maori Advocacy 520-7038
Jo Arrowsmith Last Drink Survey 520-7039
(Co-ordinate North Shore and Waitakere)
Jolene Thomas Last Drink Survey 520-7039
(Co-ordinator Auckland City and Papakura)
Heather Bristow Administrative Support 520-7039  
Roger Eccles Health Promotion 520-7038
Alcohol Healthwatch   Fax 520 7175  



ALAC, Health Promoters Networking Day,
Tuesday 29 May. 9.30am-4pm, Gilbert Room, Quality Hotes Rose Park, Gladstone Rd, Parnell, Auckland.  Include Afternoon Strategy Workshop

Public Health Association Conference
4-6 July 2001, Waipuna Conference Centre, Auckland

News & Views

Alcohol Healthwatch
PO Box 99407, Newmarket, Auckland
Ph: (09) 520 7038 Fax: (09) 520 7175
This newsletter is funded by the Ministry of Health