Data and Evaluation

Alcohol - Research, Data and Evaluation

The Northern Territory Government is committed to improving our research, data and evaluation initiatives in order to ensure our efforts to reduce alcohol related harm are successful. This commitment is reflected in the Research, Data and Evaluation section of the Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan 2018-2019 (the Action Plan).

Our data needs to be accurate, able to be linked to other datasets and easily accessible.

Research on alcohol consumption, misuse, harm and addiction needs to be comprehensive, contemporary and reliable in order for government and service providers to make informed and effective decisions.

Significant investment is being made by Government into treatment and service provision and other supply and demand reduction initiatives.  Good practice and governance requires that each of those initiatives are subject to monitoring and evaluation.

Significant new initiatives, implemented under the Action Plan will be subject to evaluation by a suitable qualified and independent organisation.

Research

The following research is being undertaken under the Action Plan:

  • A ‘demand study’ for alcohol treatment services in the Northern Territory has commenced and is being led by the Menzies School of Health Research and the University of New South Wales.  The study will inform NT Government decisions in relation to alcohol treatment services across the Territory.  The first stage report is expected in the first quarter of 2019.
  • A review of sobering up shelters has been undertaken by Price Waterhouse Coopers Indigenous Consulting. The review will inform NT Government decisions in relation to sobering up shelter services across the Territory. The final report and Government’s response to the report will be released in November 2018.
  • An update of the 2009 study Harms from and Costs of Alcohol Consumption in the Northern Territory is being undertaken by Menzies School of Health Research. This report was referred to in the Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review Final Report, reporting that the economic cost of alcohol-related harm in the Northern Territory was $640 million (based on 2004 statistics). The study will provide an updated economic assessment of the cost of alcohol-related harm in the Northern Territory, and will increase our understanding of alcohol-related trends to better inform policy and investment.
  • An assessment of need and feasibility of trialling managed alcohol programs (wet houses) is being undertaken by the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APONT). APONT is currently undertaking consultations with treatment service providers and Aboriginal community organisations, with a discussion paper being prepared to inform broader community consultations in early 2019.

Data

The following work has been progressed in relation to improving alcohol related data under the Action Plan:

  • The Northern Territory Police Last Drinks Survey was put in place on 1 March 2018. The survey captures when and where a person (that has come into police custody) has had their last alcohol drink and takes into account the person’s prior 12 hour period of drinking. The survey will also be rolled out in emergency departments of key hospitals as part of the Cardiff Model (see below). This data assists Police with identifying places of interest and is another tool which informs their enforcement activities.
  • Work is underway to establish a version of the Cardiff Model in the emergency departments in Alice Springs and Darwin to link emergency department data with police data to inform policy, regulatory and enforcement activities and to prevent alcohol-related violence in the Northern Territory.
  • The Department of Health continues to publish a monthly report of key statistics relevant to the implementation of the BDR including treatment access data.

Evaluation of alcohol harm minimisation initiatives

The impact of harm minimisation efforts under the Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan 2018-2019 will be measured in a number of ways, at the population and individual behaviour level.

A number of major initiatives under the Action Plan will be subject to independent evaluation and monitoring. For instance, the BDR, minimum floor price and the introduction of Police Auxiliary Licensing Inspectors (PALIs).

Evaluation of the BDR is already underway: The BDR Evaluation Report, evaluating the first six months of the BDR’s operation, was released in July 2018. The second evaluation report is due in December 2018. Progress against the recommendations of the BDR Evaluation Report will be reported in future Action Plan progress reports. The impact of the minimum floor price which commenced on 1 October 2018, will be monitored closely, with wholesale data being the primary indicator of how the Territory’s consumption of alcohol has been affected. In addition, Section 118E of the Liquor Act requires the responsible Minister to review the floor price at three year intervals, taking into account the objective of reduction of harmful consumption of liquor. This three year review will be underpinned by an independent evaluation.

Key indicators of harm minimisation

The Northern Territory Government will use the following five key indicators to regularly measure how policy interventions are impacting on alcohol-related harms:

  1. decrease in the number of alcohol-related deaths;
  2. decrease in overall consumption rate;
  3. decrease in alcohol-related assaults;
  4. decrease in alcohol-related emergency department presentation; and
  5. decrease in the number of alcohol attributable instances of serious road injury.

These indicators are widely accepted as reliable indicators for measuring levels of alcohol-related harm in Australia. The collection and reporting of these key indicators is an initiative under the Action Plan.

The Northern Territory Government will also be reporting against the indicators contained in the National Alcohol Strategy 2018-2026 (currently under development).

Additional secondary indicators will be used to monitor and evaluate specific initiatives as appropriate.