Healthy Families Hutt Valley has a focus on creating safe spaces that reduce the harm caused by alcohol. Safe spaces are the social and physical environments that create and support safer patterns of drinking behaviour and encourage low-risk drinking, which means harmful drinking is not visible to our children and community wellbeing and safety is enhanced.

We all want our communities to be safe and healthy places wherever we live, learn, work or play.

Overall, New Zealanders are drinking too much, too often and more alcohol leads to more harm. The intoxicating effects and other physiological impacts caused by our drinking behaviour can lead to many health and social concerns for people who use alcohol, as well as people who are impacted by another person’s drinking.

For many of our communities the amount of alcohol and the pattern of drinking is causing harm to themselves, and others. It is this significant health harm which has a particular impact on our tamariki.

Locally, each month the Hutt Hospital emergency department sees between 75 and 100 people with varying harm caused by alcohol, and our young adults between the ages of 18-20 years have the greatest number of visits to the emergency department.

By minimising this alcohol harm, we can expect to see a range of outcomes including better health and wellbeing, a reduction in crime and alcohol-fuelled violence and reduced road fatalities. Less alcohol in our communities also positively affects people’s sense of safety and freedom to move around our city or neighbourhood.

There are many opportunities at different levels of the system to influence and make change to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.

Local Government has unique levers to reshape the alcohol system.  Local Alcohol Polices provide the avenue for bold leadership in redesigning how alcohol is sold and supplied in our communities. By reducing the availability of alcohol our health system and our people are better off.

Collectively we have an opportunity with the review of Hutt City Council’s Local Alcohol Policy in 2024 to make decisions alongside our communities about the sale and supply of alcohol across Lower Hutt. By gathering insights and people’s lived experience about how alcohol affects our community we can shape the way alcohol is sold and supplied and design collective solutions that will create a healthier and safer future.

Now is the time to be brave and prepare to challenge traditional approaches and ways of thinking about this complex issue.

We all have a role to play to influence healthy change and create environments and spaces which support and promote safer patterns of drinking behaviour along with a culture of low-risk drinking.

What role are you playing to create the future we all want?