Mike Knott

New program to curb Central Queensland's boozing culture

ALARMING figures released by the State Government claim a startling 27.1% of Central Queenslanders drink at levels affecting their long-term health.

The distressing figures move the region to third highest in the state.

Rural and Indigenous Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Service Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service team manager Brian Mayahale said the figures were concerning.

"People in regional areas typically do drink more alcohol than their city counterparts and there are a number of reasons for this, including isolation, boredom, economic downturn and also culture," he said.

"National standards state that more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day can lead to long-term health implications.

"It is very important people stop high-level drinking to stay healthy.

"Alcohol can be an addictive substance and aside from the physical impact on your health, in extreme cases it can lead to other problems such as domestic violence, impact your ability to hold a job and maintain a relationship."

To help combat the issue, Central Highlands Regional Council is bringing a statewide initiative, Act on Alcohol, to Blackwater and Emerald.

The new service, launched by drug and alcohol support organisation Lives Lived Well, offers a range of advice, support and tools to help communities tackle alcohol-related issues.

Program co-ordinators work with residents to help them understand local needs and issues, link with other key stakeholders in their community and find and implement local-level solutions.

Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire urged residents to get behind the initiative and take part in the free program, which will be held at the McIndoe Function Centre in Emerald from 6pm on Tuesday, February 16, and at the Blackwater Community Centre from 10.30am on Wednesday, February 17.

The announcement of the new program comes as Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart calls for widespread change to Queensland's drinking culture.

The state's top cop described Australia's nightlife areas as some of the most violent in the world and said now was the time for community leaders to capitalise on the "groundswell of support" to fight alcohol-fuelled violence.

Mr Stewart urged people not to wait for another tragedy, such as the death of 18-year-old Cole Miller, who died in January after he was punched in the head in Brisbane.

For more about the program, phone Sally Atkinson on 4980 5555 or email satkinson@chrc.qld.gov.au.


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