Turning Point researcher commended

Posted on: Wednesday, 06 June 2012

A Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre researcher whose investigations into the relationship between the density of alcohol outlets and people’s health and social welfare has helped to change alcohol policy in Victoria, has received a commendation in the 2012 Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research.

Michael Livingston was awarded $8,000 for his research at a prestigious ceremony at Government House.

Mr Livingston used his PhD to consider the effects that the liberalisation of alcohol policy in Victoria through the 1980s and 1990s had on the community.

While it bought many positive social and economic benefits to the State, the policy also resulted in a set of unintended consequences, the significance of which is only now being understood.

Mr Livingston looked particularly at the effect that increasing the density of alcohol outlets has had on neighbourhoods.

What he discovered made for grim reading. The more alcohol outlets there were in a neighbourhood, the more chance there was of assault, family violence, chronic disease and binge drinking among young adults.

These findings have had a major impact on alcohol policy in Victoria, leading to stricter controls for the approval of new bottle shops. The research has been used as critical evidence in liquor licensing hearings around Australia.

Today Mr Livingston is considered one of the world leaders in public health research around alcohol. He has consulted widely to local and state governments including the Victorian Department of Justice and the City of Stonnington.

Mr Livingston has won several awards including the Excellence in Research at the Australian Drug and Alcohol Awards, Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and Drugs Early Career Award and the Early Career Scientist Award from the Kettil Bruun Society.

He has had 20 articles in field leading journals that have been widely cited by other researchers and policy makers in Australia and overseas.

Mr Livingston undertook his PhD at the Centre for Health and Society, University of Melbourne. He works at Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.

The Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research is an initiative of the Victorian Government and the Australian Society for Medical Research and is presented annually to an outstanding Victorian postgraduate health or medical researcher scholar.