Deadly drink

MORE people die due to alcohol in South Gippsland than anywhere else in Gippsland.

Alcohol-related death rates in South Gippsland are 60 percent higher than in other Gippsland shires and 10.4 percent of South Gippslanders aged over 65 die from alcohol related problems – one of the highest rates in Victoria.

In the shire alone, 16.4 percent of people consume alcohol weekly to a level putting them at short term risk of harm – a rate 6.2 percent above the Victorian average.

“It’s alarming. Alcohol and issues with other drugs in Melbourne are being played out on our TV sets every morning and I hope that our shire does not end up like that,” South Gippsland Shire Council mayor Cr Ray Argento said.

The rate of alcohol issues is one of the highest in Victoria and could be linked to family violence, along with gambling.

While gambling on electronic gaming machines is low in South Gippsland compared to other shires in Gippsland, people lose nearly $18,000 a day from gambling in the shire, Cr Andrew McEwen told council last Wednesday.

That, he said, adds up to $6.5 million a year.

“Most people who gamble have incomes of $400 a week. It is a tax on the poor. These people are most susceptible and they’re drinking too,” he said.

“It’s sad to hear that the biggest emerging problem is people aged 55 and 60 spending too much time drinking.”

An estimated $43.7 million is turned over each year in gaming machines in the shire – about the cost of the new Leongatha Hospital.

This figure results in losses of $6,565,792 per year of which half goes to government taxes.

This is despite South Gippsland having the lowest number of gaming machines compared with neighbouring shires, yet still more gaming machines per head than Cardinia Shire Council.

There are 105 machines at four venues: Leongatha RSL, Foster Golf Club, Middle Hotel Korumburra and McCartin’s Hotel, Leongatha.

Cr McEwen was addressing councillors shortly before they adopted council’s inaugural South Gippsland Liquor and Gambling Strategy 2017 at last Wednesday’s meeting.

That strategy aims to minimise the negative impacts of alcohol and gambling in the community.

Cr Argento said, “We want to ensure all of our community members have a high quality of life and we are taking these measures to ensure liquor and gambling are used in a safe manner.”

The report states, “Although player ratio returns are set at between 85 to 92 percent on most machines, any individual gambler may lose their whole week’s income in a day with no returns.”

South Gippslanders, according to the strategy, are at risk due to the number of people reporting a very high level of psychological distress – a rate among the highest in Victoria.

Other risk factors are the high number of people earning less than $400 a week, many older people, many lone person households, and social isolation due to lack of public transport and limited social activities, particularly in evenings in the winter.

Other risk factors are the high proportion of households with mortgage stress, many people at risk of harm due to alcohol, and many people without access to food.

In regards to alcohol, there are 160 liquor licences in South Gippsland.


Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=21758

Posted by on Jul 4 2017. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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