Alcohol-related harms on Australia Day are higher than other days and are getting worse.

Australia Day Celebrations
Australia Day Celebrations

Australia Day is a time where people like to celebrate our unique Australian culture by relaxing with family and friends, with a picnic at a local fireworks display or maybe a barbecue at home.

As with many Australian social activities, relaxed views towards alcohol and easy acceptance of harmful alcohol consumption can lead to Australia Day celebrations being tarnished by the consequences of drinking too much.

One significant consequence is an increase in the number of alcohol-related hospitalisations. From 2008 to 2012, alcohol-related hospitalisations on Australia Day increased by 51% in Western Australia. 1

The increase in alcohol-related hospitalisations is not confined to Australia Day itself, but is also seen on the day before and the day after.

The average alcohol-related hospitalisations across Australia Day and the days before and after, was 17% higher compared to the daily average for 2012.1

Research conducted in Victoria from 2008 to 2009 showed a similar finding with significant increases in alcohol-related incidents in the lead up to most public holidays, particularly the days before New Year’s Day, Australia Day, Good Friday, ANZAC Day and the last working day before Christmas’.2

This same research also found that on Australia Day:

  • Ambulance attendances for intoxicated young people more than double, compared to the average.
  • 50% increase of intoxicated young people presenting to Melbourne’s emergency departments, while there is a 200% rise in young people treated for injuries due to assaults.2

Emergency Department presentations are additional and not included in hospitalisations. This places an even greater burden on hospital services.

The costs associated of alcohol-related hospitalisations are largely preventable. For tips on how to reduce the potential alcohol-related harm this Australia Day click here.

The information provided is the most recent data available.


1 Epidemiology Branch (2014). Alcohol related hospitalisations, specific days; WA Hospital Morbidity Data System 2008-2012. Perth: Department of Health WA. [data extracted October 14, 2014]

2 Lloyd B. Drinking cultures and social occasions – public holidays, Research summary. Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre. Retrieved from

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