National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

Intergovernmental committee on Drugs working party on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Monograph

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia: An Update

June 2012

8.1 The Role of Alcohol in Australian Society

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To address FASD it is essential to first appreciate and understand the place and role of alcohol in Australia society. Alcohol plays a significant part in the social life of Australians today, as it has done since European settlers first arrived, and is integral to the Australian way of life. It is used to celebrate and commiserate significant life events such as births, deaths, marriage, graduation, promotions and sackings. It is also represented through literature, music and visual arts, and the alcohol industries sponsor major sporting events and music festivals. Alcohol plays a role in many social occasions and is embedded in the Australian vernacular; for example Australians ‘wet the baby’s head’ at christenings and ‘drown our sorrows’ if their sporting team loses. Alcohol is the most popular and widespread psychoactive substance available in Australia. It is legal, socially sanctioned and widely promoted. The consumption of alcohol in Australia is considered a sociable occasion, to be shared with others, with the principles of mateship and reciprocity exercised through buying rounds or shouts.

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