ABAC Complaints System

Lodging Complaints about Alcohol Marketing

Alcohol Marketing & Packaging Complaints can be lodged via this link

Australia has one of the most accessible complaints systems in the world, accepting complaints via its online complaints lodgement system with no costs to the consumer.  There is just one ‘doorway’ for complaints – through Ad Standards – which triggers two independent but parallel processes.

All complaints relating to alcohol marketing are independently assessed by the ABAC Chief Adjudicator and Ad Standards and streamed into the complaint process that matches the nature of the issues raised in the complaint. On some occasions, a single complaint may lead to decisions by both the Ad Standards Community Panel under the AANA Code of Ethics and also the ABAC Panel under the ABAC Code if issues under both Codes are raised.

ABAC Adjudication Panel Process

The ABAC Adjudication Panel considers all complaints that raise ABAC Code issues apart from those already considered or consistently dismissed.  There are five Panel members and a minimum of three Panel members will adjudicate on a particular complaint.  One of the three will always be a Panel member with a professional background related to public health, nominated by the Minister responsible for alcohol related matters or their nominee.  A brief biography of each panel member is provided below.

The Panel and its deliberations are conducted independently of the ABAC Management Committee and the broader alcohol or advertising industry. Members of the Panel may not currently be or have been an employee or member of the alcohol beverages industry during the 5 years prior to the date of his or her appointment.

The Chief Adjudicator is assisted in administering the complaints process by the ABAC Complaints Administrator.

All ABAC Adjudication Panel decisions are available via this link.

ABAC Adjudication Panel Members

Chief Adjudicator, Professor the Honourable Michael Lavarch AO

Professor Lavarch has been Chief Adjudicator of the Panel since its inception. He is a former Commonwealth Attorney General and is a Professor Emeritus of Law at the Queensland University of Technology.

Professor Lavarch holds a Bachelor Degree in Law from the QIT and practiced as a Solicitor prior to being elected to Federal Parliament in 1987. In 1996 he recommenced his Legal career as special Counsel to the Legal firms of Dunhill Madden Butler and Deacons. From 2001 to 2004 he was Secretary-General of the Law Council of Australia, the Peak Industry Body for the Legal Profession.  From 2004 to 2012 he was Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at the QUT. From 2012 to 2018 he was the Commissioner for Risk Intelligence and Regulatory Support with Australian Skills Quality Authority.

Professor Lavarch holds several Directorships on national companies and organisations and has undertaken a number of significant community service and education roles. He has also carried out extensive work in the field of Constitutional Law.  In 2012, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in recognition of his work in the Law, the Community and the protection of Human Rights.

Deputy Chief Adjudicator - Ms Debra Richards

Ms Richards was appointed as a general member of the Panel on 15 September 2010.  She has been the CEO of Ausfilm International Inc (2011-2019) and has been involved in the broadcasting industry in both the public and private sector for over 25 years most recently as the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Subscription Television & Radio Association (ASTRA) and previously as Director of Programming and Licensing for the Australian Broadcasting Authority (predecessor to the ACMA).  Her key achievements include building an industry association, achieving copyright and other legislative reforms in respect of the subscription television industry, developing and implementing the first and subsequent Codes of practice covering all subscription television services and businesses in Australia, and leading an established government body into a new structure and mode of operation as a result of legislative reform.

Ms Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and Graduate Diploma and Masters Degree in Arts.  She is a member of numerous communications industry bodies including member and director of the Communications & Media Law Association (CAMLA); director of the International Institute of Communications (IIC) and of the Australian chapter. She also lectures on Media in Australia for Boston University.

Ms Jeanne Strachan

Ms Strachan has been a general member of the Panel since its inception. She is a director of Inview Pty Ltd, a company specializing in market research which she founded in 1965. Since 1965 she has been involved continuously in the provision of both quantitative and qualitative market research services throughout Australia to a wide variety of businesses. Her work has included evaluating the effectiveness of television commercials, advertising campaigns and pack designs for the commercial sector and also sociological research for the public sector. Her recognised field of expertise is understanding consumer behavior. In this capacity she is frequently retained as an expert witness by the Federal Court of Australia.

Ms Strachan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Psychology and Urban Geography from the University of Sydney.  Prior to establishing Inview she was employed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission as an Audience Research Officer responsible for evaluating the reaction of consumers to both television and radio programs. Inview was a foundation member of the Australian Market Research Organisation.

Professor Louisa Jorm

Professor Jorm is a health sector member of the Panel and was appointed in December 2012.  She is the Foundation Director of the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW. She is an Australian leader in epidemiological research using linked administrative health data, including hospital inpatient, mortality and Medicare data. She has spent equal periods in senior leadership roles in government and academia. She has led numerous projects that have advanced health data linkage research in Australia through establishing novel linkages – for example, first ever-linkages of Healthdirect call data and NSW child protection data– and new uses of linked data – for example, to demonstrate the costs of end-of-life care. Her translational impacts have included the establishment of national infrastructure for data linkage research, leadership of national policy regarding the use of data for research, influential submissions to Senate and Productivity Commission inquiries and production of research evidence that has informed national policy on cardiac care for Aboriginal people and national reporting of health system performance.

Professor Richard P. Mattick AM

Professor Mattick is a health sector member of the Panel and was appointed in June 2007. He is a Professor of Drug and Alcohol Studies in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales, Sydney where he is also a past Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (2001-2009), and a NHMRC Principal Research Fellow (2013-2017). He was a member of the Prime Minister's Australian National Council on Drugs, and he is a regular adviser to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, where he is a WHO-nominated and UN-ECOSOC elected Member of an International Board (the INCB).

Professor Mattick holds a Bachelor of Science Degree (Psychology), Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology, and PhD. He has authored over 300 scientific articles and books on the assessment, nature and treatment of alcohol, opioid, and other drug use problems. His major current research interests are in clinical trials for management of tobacco and other drug dependence, and in cohort studies on prescribed and illicit opioid use, and on the development of drinking behaviours in those under the legal age to purchase alcohol, and the impacts of early exposure to alcohol and to illicit drugs on adult health. He has been an Editor on the Cochrane Review Group for Drugs and Alcohol, and Assistant Editor and Executive Editor (respectively) on the international journals Addiction and the Drug and Alcohol Review. In 2023, he was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division for significant service to drug and alcohol research through education and social policy, and to medical organisations.