A peak Warrnambool drug and alcohol service provider says alcohol abuse is a complicated health problem, killing more people than the road toll and requiring serious government investment.
The Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre director Geoff Soma said alcohol abuse had a huge impact on children.
His comments came as new Salvation Army data reveals 25 per cent of people in regional areas know a family where they think children are not being properly cared for because of alcohol abuse.
Mr Soma said the impact of drink depended on the severity of the problem.
“Obviously a key feature identified by Warrnambool police who attend domestic matters was alcohol,” he said.
“In some cases where there is violence this can have a huge impact on the children.
“The other issue if someone is drinking too much is the affect on the family budget. It could also affect a parent’s judgment and children could be mistreated.
“If it is a problem we would ask them to consider the impact on their children and if they require support, to seek it.”
As part of the Salvation Army’s alcohol awareness initiative, new research shows 4.2 million people, or 22 per cent, said they knew families where they thought children were not being properly cared for and 16 per cent said they knew of families where children may be unsafe because of someone’s alcohol abuse.
Warrnambool Salvation Army administration manager Chris Philpot said a lot of the assistance they provided was for families affected by alcohol abuse.
He said it was difficult to put an exact number on it, but it would be one of the main issues which they saw.
Salvation Army spokesman Major Brad Halsesaid it was clear there were large numbers of people who knew of families where children aren’t being cared for properly, according to them, because of alcohol.
“To think that a child feels unsafe due to the alcohol use of a family member is very concerning,” he said.
“Alcohol is the most widely used and widely accepted drug in today’s society and yet we know people will often drink harmfully.”
For information on Salvation Army services phone 13 72 58 or visit salvos.org.au/aaw