Operation Drinksafe


Program/Project Operation Drinksafe
Period/Length 1994-1996
Aim To educate people about responsible drinking through demonstrations in local pubs and clubs and foster decision and commitment to change
Year 1994-1996
Target Group Adults
Reach The program was conducted 187 times at 118 venues. Over 6,000 people were assessed, thousand more participated and the project received consistently good media coverage over the whole intervention period.
Locations Between Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour
Partners Police Department and Drug and Alcohol workers
Funding NSW Health
Full Report
Resources Drinkcheck: A manual for alcohol brief intervention in health and community settings (2000)
More Information See below

What strategies were used?

The project team consisting of a police officer and a health educator visited the licensed premises three weeks prior to the intervention to meet the management and staff and to schedule the Operation Drinksafe presentation. During negotiation, emphasis was placed on “educating the patrons”. This was promoted as an issue of mutual relevance and importance to all parties. The co-operation of licensees was encouraged by the inclusion of letters of recommendation and support from the Australian Hotels Association and the Registered Clubs Association in an information kit which was left at the premises.

On the appointed evening, a stand was set up in the licenced premises and attended by the project team and sometimes the local police and community health staff. Patrons were invited to complete the Drinkcheck questionnaire which incorporates the WHO-developed Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Feedback included a personalised alcohol risk assessment and if required, a self-help booklet or referral to an alcohol and drug service. They were then offered a blood alcohol concentration test, using a Drager breath analysis instrument and information on BAC and driving.

What were the program outcomes?

In the Northern Rivers district over 6,000 people participated and results of a follow up survey indicated that almost half had reduced their alcohol consumption. The follow up results indicated clearly that it was harmful drinkers and binge drinkers who reduced their consumption the most. Binge frequency reduced in all risk groups. It is these drinking styles that have most potential for alcohol related harm for the individual and for the community. The reasons given by respondents as to why they subsequently reduced their consumption, suggests that the Drinksafe program capitalised on a range of motivations for change. Concern about health was cited most often, which indicates that more than one message can be absorbed, even in a drinking environment. The aim of the intervention is to raise awareness and foster decision and commitment to change. The combination of strategies adopted in this model of Drinksafe may have acted as a catalyst for participants to think about their drinking which later reinforced a decision to change.

The outcomes of this study demonstrate that this new approach to Operation Drinksafe can be effective and can be evaluated. A model that includes both a personal health risk assessment and BAC drink/drive education may be a winning combination for opportunistic education in licensed premises.