Tasmanian Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Communications Charter
A shared commitment to non-stigmatising language, audio and visuals when reporting, communicating or publishing materials in relation to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs subject matter.
The community services sector, media, and Tasmanian government acknowledge the influence and impact of how we choose to communicate about the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in our communities.
We know that how we communicate about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and people who use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, has the power to:
- reduce stigma for people who use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
and their families, and
- encourage people to seek help when they need it.
We acknowledge that all people deserve dignity and respect regardless of their current or prior alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. We want to ensure that everyone in our community is safe and healthy.
This Charter is our commitment to changing behaviours and norms in our industries and organisations, to achieve positive outcomes for people in our community who use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and the Tasmanian community as a whole.
The purpose of this Charter is to help us to communicate ethically, respectfully and responsibly in the quest to reduce stigma, minimise harm and ultimately encourage people to seek help if they want or need it.
“You can’t read on the front page that you’re ‘the very worst of humanity’ and not have it sink in to some extent.
And the photos – those photos can be really damaging to people using drugs, they make you think ‘that’s all people see, so that’s where I’ll end up’.
Shifting those prejudices is so important.
That stigma has to be broken, and this Charter is the way to do it.”
Kerrie, Lived Experience Advocate
As signatories, we agree:
Alcohol, tobacco and other drug use is a complex health issue with many contributing factors
- We agree to avoid communication that places a moral value on alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, or people who use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
- We agree to communicate alcohol, tobacco and other drug use as a health issue.
- We agree to take an evidence-based approach to communicating about the causes of or influences on a person’s use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
- We agree that harms experienced by people who use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs often result from other factors including stigma and discrimination, rather than just the substances alone.
People are at the heart of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use
- We agree to use a human-centric approach to communicating about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, always remembering that the person is more than their alcohol, tobacco or other drug use and they deserve respect.
- We agree to refer to the person first and their use second, e.g. ‘a person who uses drugs’.
- We agree to include a broader view when describing a person whenever possible, including other qualities or values they hold rather than their alcohol, tobacco or other drug use as an isolated descriptor. People who use drugs are also parents, family members, friends, volunteers, or professionals, among many more possibilities.
- We agree to remember that people who use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs also have families and loved ones who are impacted by our communications.
- We agree that the perspectives of people with lived experience are important when communicating about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
- We agree to ensure that people with lived experience who are involved in our communications are provided with opportunities to debrief and information on how to access support.
Sensationalist communications are not helpful
- We agree not to use polarising and aggressive language such as ‘fight’, ‘combat’, ‘battle’ or ‘war’ when referring to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs or people who use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
“I think that the drug culture in the country needs to be altered dramatically from a dark place to a lighter one, regardless of its harm, as a culture brought into the light is more open and accountable.
With a more positive inflection, people afraid to seek help, will come forward and I think.. more people will seek help, rather than take up the substance”
Max, Lived Experience Advocate
Specialist treatment is available for alcohol, tobacco and drug use
- We agree to always communicate with encouragement and support for people who seek help.
- We agree to avoid demoralising or disempowering language such as ‘hopeless’ in communications about people who use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
- We agree that everyone has the right to make decisions about their own healthcare, and agree not to use language which places moral judgement on a person’s decisions regarding their alcohol, tobacco or other drug use or treatment.
- We agree not to imply that everyone who uses alcohol, tobacco or other drugs needs or should want treatment.
- We agree to include appropriate, relevant and accessible help-seeking information along with all references to alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
Alcohol, tobacco and other drug use is well-researched
- We agree that there is sufficient information and expertise in the area of alcohol, tobacco or other drug use for us to draw on to enable our communications to be evidence-based.
- We agree to refer to appropriately weighted, balanced and unbiased evidence rather than uninformed opinion-based commentary when reporting or communicating about alcohol, tobacco or other drug use.
- We agree to use terminology aligned with the agreed scientific or statistical meaning, and therefore favour language such as ‘increase’ or ‘decrease’ over terms like ‘significant’ and ‘epidemic’ (unless those terms are being used in the context of their formal definitions).
Our influence goes beyond stigma
- We agree not to glamorise, glorify or romanticise alcohol, tobacco or other drug use through our communications
Our impact occurs through more than words
- We agree to apply these principles and guidelines to our audio and visual communications, as well as written communications.
- We agree that visual depictions of alcohol, tobacco or other drug use and people who use drugs strongly influence
- We agree to being mindful of our body language when interacting with people who use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, to ensure they feel respected and valued, whether our interactions are being recorded or not.
“I hope in time this Communications Charter becomes the norm, it would mean better outcomes for everybody – lived experience, media, community, everyone.”
Kerrie, Lived Experience Advocate
We commit to all of the above.
- We also commit to being allies with people in our community who use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs and their families and friends in, and encouraging our colleagues to engage with these guidelines.
- We commit to identifying and actively addressing non-compliance with these guidelines.
Will you join us? Add your name to the list of signatories.
ATDC member signatories
Advocacy TasmaniaAdvocacy Tasmania Inc. (ATI) is an independent, non-government organisation that has provided advocacy services across Tasmania since 1990.Read more✖
The ATI team comprises members of the Board of Management, staff, volunteers and members who act separately and jointly to progress the interests of our clients at an individual and systems level. We work to promote and protect the rights and interests of our clients. We provide a free, State-wide, independent and confidential ‘Your Say’ advocacy service to older people, people with mental health issues, people with disabilities and people with drug and/or alcohol related problems, their carers and relatives. In addition, ATI takes a leadership role in advocating for systemic change on issues affecting our client groups. The Advocacy Tasmania service is free, confidential and State-wide. Visit the Advocacy Tasmania website
Alcohol and Drug FoundationCelebrating more than 60 years of service to the community, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) is Australia’s leading organisation committed to inspiring positive change and delivering evidence-based approaches to minimise alcohol and drug harm.Read more✖
Alcohol and Drug Foundation
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation was established in 1959 to support the many post-war veterans who became dependent on alcohol as a way of coping with the trauma of war. An empathetic and humane approach has always been central to their work. From modest beginnings, the ADF continues to evolve. Trauma continues to be a major factor for individuals and communities who find themselves facing the challenge of alcohol and other drug use. To help overcome this, they are focussing on building safe, healthy, and resilient communities. They are proudly evidence-based, independent and funded by state and federal governments. They bring expert knowledge and research into the design and implementation of their programs. Their ongoing work aligns with the Australian National Drug Strategy that declares “efforts to promote social inclusion and resilient individuals, families and communities” are a key objective within the demand reduction pillar. The ADF reach millions of Australians through sporting clubs, educational institutions and communities, by supporting and informing drug and alcohol prevention programs, and through the provision of educational information. Vising the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website
Anglicare TasmaniaAnglicare Tasmania is a not-for-profit organisation providing a range of support services to the people of Tasmania.Read more✖
In response to the Christian faith, Anglicare strives to achieve social justice and provide the opportunity for people in need to reach fullness of life. We are guided in this mission by the values of compassion, hope, respect and justice. Our first service opened in 1983 to assist people struggling with debt and low income. Hope is more than wishing for a better future. At Anglicare, we see hope as a confident expectation of positive change. It’s the reason we persevere; as an organisation we respond to complex situations and issues, and deliver support that makes a genuine difference. Anglicare has been serving Tasmanians for 35 years. We’re here for the long-haul, devoted to this place and the people who live here. In the past year, our team has provided support to thousands of local people of all ages and postcodes, and worked for social justice in a range of areas including child welfare, poker machine reform and affordable housing. Visit the Anglicare Tasmania website
Bethlehem HouseOn 10th September 1972 the Society of St Vincent de Paul opened an overnight shelter for homeless men at 56 Warwick Street, Hobart. It became the primary homeless charity in Hobart, supported by a Vencentian volunteers from local conferences.Read more✖
Over the years, the Bethlehem House has changed a lot to meet the needs of our disadvantaged community. We help a wide range of homeless men, many of whom have experienced problems with family and relationship breakdown, mental health issues, alcohol and substance abuse, and periods of unemployment and/or imprisonment. Bethlehem House continues to struggle with inadequate mainstream funding to meet the core operating costs, each year. The assistance of volunteers and the donations from generous Tasmanians continue to make all the difference. Thank you. Visit the Bethlehem House website
Cancer Council TasmaniaCancer Council Tasmania is a charity working to minimise the incidence and impact of cancer on all Tasmanians through advocacy, raising awareness of cancer prevention and offering support and information for anyone affected by the disease.Read more✖
Cancer Council Tasmania
On average, over nine Tasmanians are diagnosed with cancer each day – making our work in Tasmania vital to the health of the community. Visit the Cancer Council Tasmania website
Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation (CHAC)CHAC is governed by the Corporations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (CATSI) Act. CHAC has evolved into a supporting caring community organisation empowering the Australian Indigenous People/s of Circular Head to self-determination.Read more✖
Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation (CHAC)
With approximately 40 full and part-time workers and a team of volunteers, CHAC has implemented an important range of community and commercial services critical to the needs of health and wellbeing of the Australian Indigenous People/s of Circular Head. CHAC has become a valued contributor to the advancement of positive proactive attitudes that remain in the community. Visit the CHAC website
Launceston City Mission (Missiondale)The Missiondale Therapeutic Community is a 34 bed residential facility located on a 25-acre peaceful rural property in Evandale, Tasmania.Read more✖
Launceston City Mission (Missiondale)
The program is made up of four different stages, taking from 2-8 months to complete. Residents of all stages live together in shared accommodation (lounges, kitchens, bathrooms – but you will have your own bedroom) to support each other through the program. The “community as method” approach at Missiondale supports the Community Values which are learning, honesty, work ethic and responsible concern. Visit the City Mission website
Drug Education NetworkThe Drug Education Network (DEN) is a non-government organisation funded to deliver a range of health promotion, prevention, and early intervention programs to reduce the harm associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use across Tasmania.Read more✖
Drug Education Network
The Drug Education Network (DEN) is a non-government organisation funded to deliver a range of health promotion, prevention, and early intervention programs to reduce the harm associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use across Tasmania. They have a commitment to deliver services focused on community engagement and capacity building. DEN recognises socio-economic, cultural and gender factors influence usage and that disadvantage is often perpetuated through different system and service responses to different population groups. DEN works closely with communities and key stakeholders to identify and develop locally owned responses to concerns regarding alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. Recognising that ATOD use and misuse affects individuals across the lifespan, DEN works from pre-birth to the senior years. Visit the Drug Education Network website
Mental Health Families and Friends TasmaniaMental Health Families and Friends Tasmania (MHFFTas) is a statewide leader in the provision of mental health families and friends support.Read more✖
Mental Health Families and Friends Tasmania
Mental Health Families and Friends Tasmania (MHFFTas) is a statewide leader in the provision of mental health families and friends support. We aim to improve the quality of life for the one in five Tasmanian families, friends, carers and people living with mental health issues and mental illness. Mental health families and friends are people who provide unpaid physical, practical or emotional support to a family member, friends, neighbours or colleagues with mental ill health. Visit the MHFFTas website
Pathways TasmaniaVelocity Transformations is a residential rehabilitation programme based in Moonah, Tasmania.Read more✖
The Transformations Program brings people from a place of addiction to being able to positively participate back in their communities. They are a client-centred, medium-term, drug-free, residential therapeutic community. Provision of services operates within a structured, safe and supportive environment, which adopts an abstinence approach. Visit the Pathways Tasmania website
Rural Alive and Well Tas. Inc. (RAW Tasmania)RAW (Rural Alive & Well Inc.) is a non for profit organisation helping individuals, families and the community through mental health issues with a focus on suicide prevention.Read more✖
Rural Alive and Well Tas. Inc. (RAW Tasmania)
They provide outreach support to rural Tasmania, as well as working with the community to undertake well-being initiatives. RAW’s outreach program is available 24/7, our outreach workers will come to you, or alternatively talk on the phone. They offer a friendly ear in a difficult time, and provide information, support and strategies to help, as well as linking you to relevant services that can assist. The service is free and confidential. Visit the RAW Tasmania website
The Link Youth Health ServiceThe Link provides health services that are FREE for people aged between 12 and 25 years old. You will get confidential support in a safe and friendly environment.Read more✖
The Link Youth Health Service
The Link provides health services that are FREE for people aged between 12 and 25 years old. You will get confidential support in a safe and friendly environment. Visit the Link Youth Health Service website
The Salvation Army TasmaniaThe Salvation Army Australia is a national Christian movement, united by faith and giving hope where it's needed most.Read more✖
The Salvation Army Tasmania
Across the country they are engaged with every demographic and every age group. They are active in the big cities, the country towns and even in rural communities. You’ll find them involved in national issues and you’ll also find them on the ground day and night, bringing hope wherever there is hardship or injustice. Visit the Salvation Army Tasmania website
Youth, Family & Community Connections Inc. (YFCC)Youth, Family & Community Connections Inc. (YFCC) is a not for profit, community organisation that provides a range of services to young people, families and individuals in communities across the North West Coast and West Coast of Tasmania.Read more✖
Youth, Family & Community Connections Inc. (YFCC)
YFCC envisions a community where individuals and families have the opportunity to achieve their goals and to seek positive change. Their treatments are client centred, solution focussed, holistic (they look at all the social determinants of health), and focussed on improving health and social outcomes within a harm minimisation framework. Their understanding of complex needs demonstrates a unique service delivery that values integrity, diversity, initiative and collaboration. The range of models that we work from underpins these values because they are passionate about supporting youth and families & communities toward a better future. Visit the YFCC website
Resources and references
Are you looking for practical guidance on how to to communicate about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs?
Mindframe for Alcohol and other Drugs (Everymind) mindframe.org.au/alcohol-other-drugs
The Power of Words (Alcohol and Drug Foundation) adf.org.au/resources/power-words
When communicating about mental health, mental illness or suicide, refer to: Tasmanian Communications Charter: A state-based approach to Mental Health and Suicide Prevention: tascharter.org
Further resources are in development and will be available soon, please contact email@example.com if you are interested in learning more.
Download a copy of the Tasmanian Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Communications Charter here:
The Tasmanian Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Communications Charter was developed with input from stakeholder representatives from the Tasmanian alcohol, tobacco and other drugs sector, the Tasmanian media industry, Lived Experience Advocates, Mindframe and Common Cause. The Charter was informed by the Mindframe for Alcohol and other Drugs guidelines and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s ‘The Power of Words’ resource. It also drew from public participation approaches to lived experience and community involvement in healthcare, both in Australia and internationally. The Hello Tas Health Literacy tool (TasCOSS) was also referred to.
Further information and examples used to inspire and influence the Charter include:
- The Health Canada Policy Toolkit for Public Involvement in Decision Making, 2000, Government of Canada
- Development of a consumer engagement strategy for the commission, Background paper, 2008, Australian Commission on safety and quality in healthcare
- Statement on consumer and community involvement in health and medical research, September 2016, National Health and Medical Research Council
- Guidelines for Guidelines: Practical advice on how to meet the 2016 NHMRC Guideline Standards – consumer involvement, 2016, National Health and Medical Research Council
- The Statement of Principles for Consumer Involvement in Cochrane, July 2017, Cochrane Consumer Network