Rosie Batty endorses plan for alcohol levy to fund family violence programs
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Rosie Batty endorses plan for alcohol levy to fund family violence programs

A levy should be applied to alcoholic drinks to fund responses to family violence, according to a call to arms to be launched by Australian of the Year Rosie Batty on Wednesday.

The blueprint to prevent alcohol-related family violence, developed by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, urges federal, state and territory governments to implement a series of measures to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, which it says is involved in up to 65 per cent of the family violence incidents reported to police.

In a foreword to the report co-signed by Ms Batty, foundation chief executive Michael Thorn said alcohol made family violence more common and more severe, but this had not been adequately recognised in national or state and territory plans to address family violence.

"The next step, if governments are sincere, is to recognise the elephant in the room; to acknowledge the role of alcohol and to embrace evidence-based solutions to address it," Mr Thorn said.

Rosie Batty: There can never be an 'acceptable' level of family violence.

Rosie Batty: There can never be an 'acceptable' level of family violence.

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The plan calls for restrictions on alcohol supply and promotion, better support for children at risk of maltreatment, and improved treatment programs for perpetrators of violence.

Mr Thorn said governments needed to act on the "irrefutable" evidence linking the availability of alcohol with family violence.

"In practice that means putting public interests ahead of the alcohol industry and being prepared to say no to liquor licence applications that put people at greater risk of harm. As a nation, we must be ready to demand that they do," he said.

The plan calls for a levy on alcoholic drinks to address what the foundation says is a mismatch between the harm alcohol causes and the revenue governments receive from it.

In 2013-14, the Commonwealth collected $5 billion in alcohol tax, but the foundation estimates alcohol costs the nation $36 billion a year.

It proposes revenue raised through the levy be used to pay for the costs incurred by governments in responding to family violence, as well as programs to prevent family violence.

Ms Batty, whose son Luke was murdered by his father in February last year, said there could never be an "acceptable" level of family violence.

"Prevention must be our ultimate goal and we must do everything in our power to stop it," she said.

"The Framework provides us with such a roadmap, a complete and balanced package of measures that recognise the importance of prevention while not abandoning the absolute necessity that governments continue to support those already affected and assist and protect those most vulnerable," Ms Batty said.

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Dan Harrison is Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent for Fairfax Media. He is based in Canberra.