Community workshops focus on solutions to reduce alcohol-related harm

A series of community workshops has given local people an opportunity to help reduce alcohol-related harm where they live, learn, work, and play in South Auckland.

Healthy Families South Auckland (The Cause Collective) hosted four community workshops for residents, church ministers, youth, and sports and fitness advocates to lead the design of effective solutions to harmful drinking.

The community workshops were delivered in a co-design format, whereby community participation is paramount to actively involve them in the designing of prototypes (an early model or sample to test a concept or process) to ensure the results meets their needs and is usable.

Damien Anderson, a Wiri resident, was a participant in the workshop with residents, and commented on the negative impacts of alcohol-related harm on his close family and friends.

“It was awesome to see local people come together and create solutions for our neighbourhoods. Growing up in Wiri, alcohol was a big issue. I’ve seen people die from it as well as go to jail because of the effects that it has on them,” he says.

Harmful drinking can cause serious health, personal and social problems. Alcohol is one of the main preventable risk factors for several diseases, such as cancer, mental health conditions and long-term conditions.[1] In New Zealand, approximately 800 people die from alcohol related harm each year, with 50% from injuries, 25% from cancer and 25% from other chronic diseases.[2]

Chante, a Clover Park resident, enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the significance of alcohol-related harm in New Zealand as well as the potential solutions to reducing harm.

“I grew up in a family that loves to celebrate. Alcohol was typically consumed as part of those celebrations. Sadly, I’ve had a few family members die because of drink-drinking, so the effect of alcohol has been heavy in my family,” she says.

A teacher at a South Auckland school, Chante believes that alcohol education will play a key role in helping to reduce alcohol-related harm in South Auckland.

“Our literacy around alcohol is lacking so educational workshops aimed at youth will be crucial to helping reduce alcohol-related harm in South Auckland,” she says.

“If people that overdrink don’t know the harm they are causing to others when they drink. We need to help them understand the dangerous consequences that can occur when they consume too much alcohol.”

At Middlemore Hospital, 4,217 presentations (a presentation is the appearance in a patient of illness or disease, or signs or symptoms before a medical professional) of alcohol-related hospitalisations were observed. 1,230 of those presentations were from the Pacific ethnic group and over 700 of these Pacific presentations were admitted to hospital.[3]

Across Auckland, alcohol is readily available, with a total of 4,266 active alcohol licences in the region. This consisted of 2,777 On-Licences (pubs, restaurants, cafes, etc), 1,099 Off-Licences (bottle stores, supermarkets, online retaliers) and 390 Club Licences (sports clubs, RSA’s,) that sell and supply alcohol to our communities.[4]

Reverend Ifalame Teisi of The Free Church of Tonga in Favona, agrees that positive change to alcohol-related harm in South Auckland requires solutions from local people.

“The most powerful solution will come from the individuals involved in alcohol harm. This is what I like about the initiative that we’re developing as the solutions come from the families that need help. Therefore, the individual will be empowered to make change,” he says.

Andy Piutau, Lead Systems Innovator, Healthy Families South Auckland, facilitated the four community workshops and comments the next steps will involve assembling support from key stakeholders to implement the community solutions.

“Alcohol-related harm is a serious issue in South Auckland that has a negative generational impact on whanau and communities. The lived realities of community residents are important to help create solutions for better health for people who struggle with their drinking and cause harm to others in their home, work and/or social environments,” he says.

“We’re focused on a whole-of-community approach to reduce alcohol related harm that is created for community by community. Our approach to reduce alcohol related harm will be focused on creating new social and cultural norms for safe drinking in South Auckland.”

“We’ll be reaching out to local government, and other local stakeholders to help bring these solutions to life. They have a significant part to play to help support our residents and reduce alcohol-related harm in the areas where they live, learn, work and play,” he says.

For more information about the community workshops and/or the alcohol-related harm work by Healthy Families South Auckland (The Cause Collective), contact Systems Innovator, Ashlynn Ale, ashlynn.ale@thecausecollective.org.nz.