B4 A project-based approach

B 4.1  Create specific joint actions to address priority issues

An alcohol harm reduction plan as described in B 1.2 can provide the framework for joint agency project work in line with s295(b).

However, agencies can work together to address identified and priority issues and actions regardless of whether that level of overarching planning has taken place.

Additionally, overarching planning is often at a fairly high level, setting out broad priorities, strategies and work streams. There may be an expectation that regulatory agencies design their approach in line with this broad framework but work at an operational level to agree lower-level goals and actions and align these with their roles and reporting accountabilities.

The key requirement under s295(b) is that regulatory agencies, alongside their licensing work obligations, work with one another and with other stakeholders in at least some specific project-based actions that address priority issues. By its nature this work also supports best practice in the licensing environment.

Working together, even on small projects, helps to build trust and momentum as ‘wins’ from this work increase a sense of success and capability and enhance willingness to tackle bigger and more complex issues.

Cross-sector partnerships do face significant challenges in this work because of differences in culture, risk tolerance, resource availability and other factors. Addressing social challenges requires bold leadership and flexibility to iterate approaches as projects unfold. These challenges are best managed when there is trust to draw on.

Project-based, joint actions to address a priority issue were central to Police and Licensing Inspectors working together to address mid-week disorder spikes in central Nelson. 

Joint actions also feature in an effective collaboration between Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) and Māori Wardens responding to wardens’ concerns about alcohol-related harm, particularly in South Auckland, where proliferation of alcohol outlets has been greatest.

B 4.2  Take time to work jointly

Building relationships and working collaboratively to identify and prioritise issues and to agree and jointly plan and implement responses in line with s295(b) takes time and resource. This process will be tailored to account for:

  • available regulatory personnel resource, allowing for differences in alcohol licensing system workload and assigned responsibilities beyond alcohol (such as rural police, who hold multiple portfolios, public health personnel who hold multiple officer and/or health protection and promotion roles, and inspectors who also hold other regulatory officer roles)
  • additional resource accessible through other parts of each organisation, for example other personnel working on alcohol harm reduction, such as community development personnel in larger territorial authorities and health promoters in larger public health units.

The overall intention is that regulatory agencies work together to the best of their ability to identify and address alcohol-related harm, using a range of levers permitted within their roles to address this.

A key challenge is the demands on agencies created by day-to-day functions.

The typical reality in many regulatory agency roles is the significant numbers of applications to be processed alongside monitoring and enforcement obligations. These responsibilities tend to ‘speak louder’ than alcohol-related harm, and often remain the focus, because of legislative obligations in dealing with applications, at the expense of strategies to address known issues.

Regulatory agency personnel need to be supported at management level and resourced to ensure both parts of their roles can be completed (refer B 2.4). External funding can help with resourcing and other needs; for example, AHPP in Nelson Tasman has benefited from funding for research and projects (including from ACC and Council). This has allowed projects to be more readily resourced, including providing paid personnel to undertake local research into alcohol-related harm.