RISKY DRINKING: The Mitchell Institute at Victoria University's Australia's Health Tracker by Area, Alcohol Report revealed the name of a Northern Rivers town which topped the list of Australia's most risky drinkers.
RISKY DRINKING: The Mitchell Institute at Victoria University's Australia's Health Tracker by Area, Alcohol Report revealed the name of a Northern Rivers town which topped the list of Australia's most risky drinkers.

This town has highest rate of risky drinkers in the country

A NORTHERN Rivers town has been revealed as having the highest risk drinking rates in the country according to respected think-tank.

Byron Shire has the highest risky drinking rate in the nation with almost a third of people drinking at risky levels, Australia's Health Tracker by Area Alcohol Report from health policy think tank, Mitchell Institute at Victoria University shows.

As the festive season approaches, people in regional NSW will be drinking at risky levels at a greater rate than their city counterparts, with the top eight risky drinking areas found in the state's rural and regional areas.

Risky drinking for this research was the consumption of two standard drinks or more on any day.

Nationally, the average risky drinking rate is trending downwards and Australians are on track to reach the 2025 target of 16.1 per cent.

However, risky drinking rates vary dramatically across NSW, from as low as 6.6 per cent of the population in Fairfield in western Sydney to 31.6 per cent in Byron Shire.

Mitchell Institute's Professor Rosemary Calder said people who drink to excess are at much higher risk of alcohol-related illness including heart disease, stroke, liver disease, some cancers, depression, anxiety and dementia.

The Tracker shows that lower socio-economic metropolitan communities and those with high migrant populations were less likely to drink at risky levels.

"This suggests that a culture of drinking plays the biggest factor in risky drinking rates, and alcohol prices are also influencing drinking patterns," Prof Calder said.

She said government programs that promoted safe drinking, and healthcare supports should be targeted into the communities that needed it most.

"We need to focus on getting effective information and supports for reducing alcohol consumption into regional communities".

Approximately 5,500 deaths and 157,000 hospital admissions are attributed to alcohol consumption in Australia each year, and alcohol-related harm costs the economy more than $14 billion per annum.

Research shows less drinking would lead to 190,000 fewer cases of diabetes, 16,000 fewer cancers and deliver an extra 470,000 healthy-life years.

One in two Australians are currently living with a chronic illness such as cancer, heart disease or dementia.

About a third of that could be prevented by reducing smoking, high body mass, alcohol use and high blood pressure, and increasing physical activity.

Most risky drinkers - National

Byron, NSW 31.6

Cottesloe, WA 31.5

Mosman Park, WA 31.5

Peppermint Grove, WA 31.5

East Fremantle, WA 29.8

Fewest risky drinkers - National

Greater Dandenong, VIC 6.5

Fairfield, NSW 6.6

Auburn, NSW 7.9

Strathfield, NSW 8.4

Brimbank, VIC 8.6

Biggest drinkers in each state/territory by %

NSW - Byron 31.6

WA - Perth's western suburbs (Cottesloe, Mosman Park, Peppermint Grove & Fremantle) 31.5

VIC - Bright/Towong 27.6

SA - Kangaroo Island 27.0

NT - Inner Darwin 23.8

QLD - Caloundra/Maroochy Hinterland 22.7

TAS - Tasman 22.2

Fewest drinkers in each state/territory

VIC - Greater Dandenong 6.5

NSW - Auburn 7.9

SA - Salisbury 12.2

QLD - Ipswich 13.6

WA - Canning 15.7

TAS - Kentish 14.4

ACT - 14.9