In 2018–19, about 30% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over had not consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months or had never consumed alcohol – 27% in non-remote areas and 41% in remote areas (ABS 2019). The proportion of the Indigenous population who had abstained from alcohol was higher than in the non-Indigenous population.
Risky alcohol consumption
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) published the latest alcohol guidelines in 2020: drink no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day to reduce alcohol-related injury from a single occasion; and no more than 10 standard drinks per week to reduce alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime.
The 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey reporting of single occasion risk and lifetime risk was based on the NHMRC’s previously released guideline in 2009. These were the guidelines that applied at the time the survey was undertaken: no more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion (single occasion risk) and no more than two standard drinks on any day (lifetime risk). The following reporting of single occasion risk and lifetime risk are based on the 2009 alcohol guideline outlined above.
In 2018–19, 50% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 years and over reported drinking alcohol at levels exceeding the single occasion risk guideline (more than 4 drinks) at least once in the two weeks prior to the survey. This was a decrease of 4 percentage points since 2012–13 (54%).
The proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 18 and over who exceeded the single occasion risk guideline generally decreased with age from 65% of those aged 18–24 to 35% of those aged 55 and over (Figure 5.11). Among those aged 15–17, 18% reported drinking at levels that exceeded the single occasion risk guidelines,
In 2018–19, 18% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 years and over drank at levels that exceeded the NHMRC lifetime risk guidelines that were current at the time the survey was conducted (no more than 2 standard drinks per day on average). A higher proportion of Indigenous males (28%) exceeded the guidelines than Indigenous females (10%) (Figure 5.11).
Figure 5.11: Risky alcohol consumption among Indigenous adults, 2018–19
In 2014–15, about 1 in 20 (5.9%) Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over in non-remote areas, and 1 in 10 (8.9%) in remote areas, said alcohol-related problems had been a personal stressor for them in the previous 12 months.
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