Shocking: one million Australian children harmed by other people's drinking.

A major study to be released today by domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty has found that more than one million children are harmed by other people’s drinking.

One million Australian children abused, attacked, witnessing alcohol-fuelled violence, left unsupervised, intimidated, terrified.

One million children harmed by other people’s drinking.

It’s a deeply distressing statistic – and one that everyone in Australia needs to comprehend. The scourge of alcohol related violence and family disruptions is a modern day phenomenon threatening to destroy lives if it isn’t combatted.

The report produced by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR), The hidden harm: Alcohol’s impact on children and families, reveals the full extent of alcohol-related family and domestic violence in Australia.

It found that almost half of domestic violence incidents and 47% of child protection cases involved alcohol.

It found that more than 10,000 Australian children are in the child protection system because of a carers drinking.

It found that lives were being lost and that at the greatest risk were our children.

47% of child protection cases involved alcohol.

Shockingly the statistics – which do not include Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT – showed there were at least 30,000 incidents of alcohol related domestic violence reported to police each year.

It found that many families who experienced harm from alcohol had a problem drinker who consumed 11-14 drinks about three to five times a week. In one family the problem drinker was a teenager who was drinking three bottles of vodka a day.

The teenage drinker’s mother told researchers “He knows how to work the system and it’s ripping his sister apart because we said we would stand by him, get him out of jail, stand by him, put a roof over his head for a fresh start on the condition he stayed away from alcohol, and he’s broke that and he’s up to three bottles of vodka a day.”

30,000 incidents of alcohol related domestic violence.

The report found a systematic repetition to the violence with half of adult respondents harmed in 2008 also harmed in 2011 and 35 per cent of children harmed in 2008 continued to be harmed in 2011.

Of the one million children impacted by other people’s drinking the consequences for them was severe.  Interviews revealed that children witnessing verbal or physical conflict, quite often or witnessed drinking or inappropriate behaviour.

Children were also verbally abused, left in an unsupervised or unsafe situation, physically hurt or exposed to domestic violence because of others’ drinking.

And the main culprit in this violence was in most cases the child’s father.

Robin Room, Director, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre wrote for The Conversation that in any given year 367 Australians die because of another’s drinking, and 13,660 are hospitalised. An estimated 19,443 substantiated child protection cases involve a carer’s drinking.

The director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, Professor Mike Daube told The Guardian that given the Prime Minister had flagged domestic violence to be on the next Council of Australian Governments agenda, alcohol’s contribution should be a key part of that discussion.

“If ever a report deserved to be described as a wake-up call, this is it,” he said.

“The report shows the massive impacts of alcohol on others – especially children, women and families who are least able to protect themselves.

“The extent of the impacts should come as a shock, from domestic violence to child protection cases. Sadly, the figures provided are probably an underestimate.”

The Alcohol and Drug help

These centres are state and territory-based services that offer information, advice, referral, intake, assessment and support 24 hours a day. They offer services for individuals, their family and friends, general practitioners, other health professionals and business and community groups.


NEW SOUTH WALES (02) 9361 8000  OR  1800 422 599 (RURAL)


DARWIN (08) 8922 8399

ALICE SPRINGS (08) 8951 7580

QUEENSLAND – 24 HOURS 1800 177 833


ADELAIDE (08) 8363 8618

TASMANIA (GENERAL) – 24 HOURS 1800 811 994

HOBART (03) 9416 1818

WESTERN AUSTRALIA (08) 9442 5000  OR  1800 198 024 (RURAL WA ONLY)


DirectLine 1800 888 236

DrugInfo 1300 858 584

Family Drug Helpline 1300 660 068 (VIC only)

Additional Support

Youth Substance Abuse Service

(03) 9418 1020

1800 014 446 (rural Vic only)

Parent Drug Information Service

(08) 9442 5050

1800 653 203 (rural WA only)


Kids Helpline :1800 55 1800

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

Domestic Violence hotline : 1800 737 732.