The National Binge Drinking Campaign's objectives are to raise awareness of the harms and costs to young people, their families, communities and society associated with drinking to intoxication, to encourage young people and their parents to question the acceptability and impact of intoxicated behaviour, to highlight the influence that parental attitudes to alcohol misuse and adult behaviour and drinking to intoxication can have on others and provide referral and support information for those who recognise a need to seek help.

Independent Report on the National Binge Drinking Campaign (November 2009 -June 2010)

To the Minister for Health and Ageing


The Government’s Guidelines on Campaign Advertising by Australian Government Departments and Agencies (the Guidelines) state that Government information and advertising campaigns can only be approved for launching by the responsible Minister where:

  • the Chief Executive of the agency undertaking the campaign certifies that the campaign complies with the Guidelines and relevant Government policies; and
  • for those campaigns with expenditure in excess of $250 000, the Auditor-General provides a report to the Minister responsible for the agency undertaking the campaign as to the proposed campaign’s compliance with the Guidelines.


I have undertaken a review of the National Binge Drinking Campaign (November 2009 - June 2010), administered by the Department of Health and Ageing to enable me to report on the proposed Campaign’s compliance with the Guidelines.

The Guidelines state that campaigns should be instigated only where a need is demonstrated, target recipients are clearly identified and the campaign is based on appropriate research, and require that:

  • material should be relevant to government responsibilities;
  • material should be presented in an objective, fair and accessible manner;
  • material should not be directed at promoting party political interests;
  • material should be produced and distributed in an efficient, effective and relevant manner, with due regard to accountability; and
  • advertising must comply with legal requirements.

The criteria I have used to make my assessment of the compliance of the National Binge Drinking Campaign (November 2009 - June 2010) with the Guidelines are the matters specified at paragraphs 11 to 24 of the Guidelines published by the Department of Finance and Deregulation in June 2008.

The Department proposes to utilise social media as part of the marketing activities related to this advertising campaign. This matter was not included within the cope of the Secretary’s certification of campaign compliance and is not included within the scope of this report.

Responsibilities of the Department

Agencies subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 must comply with the Guidelines as a matter of Government policy. The Secretary of Health and Ageing has certified that the campaign complies with the Guidelines..

The Auditor’s Responsibility

My responsibility is to express, in this assurance report, an independent conclusion based on my review.

My review is conducted in accordance with the Australian Standard on Assurance Engagements ASAE 3000 Assurance Engagements Other than Audits or Reviews of Historical Financial Information issued by the Australian Auditing and Assurance Standards Board. My review is designed to enable me to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence to form a conclusion whether anything has come to my attention to indicate that the campaign does not comply, in all material respects, with the Guidelines.

Review methodology

I have conducted the review of the campaign by making such enquiries and performing such procedures as I considered reasonable in the circumstances including:

  • an examination of campaign materials which consist of two television advertisements, 12 radio (including two indigenous and eight non-English speaking executions) advertisements, eight magazine advertisements (including four indigenous executions), two cinema advertisements, one digital banner in various sizes, one “over the page” digital execution, and five outdoor executions (including four print advertisements and the campaign logo);
  • a review of supporting documents and records relevant to the campaign, including related research and campaign funding approvals;
  • enquiries made of staff of the Department involved with the preparation of the campaign;
  • an assessment of the reasonableness of the judgements made by the Department against each of the Guidelines;
  • an examination of the certification by the Secretary dated 21 October 2009; and
  • an examination of the management representation letter by the Secretary dated 21 October 2009

The ANAO review did not extend to an assessment of the general system controls and supporting procedures in place in the Department to manage its advertising activities, but focussed on matters relating specifically to the National Binge Drinking Campaign (November 2009 - June 2010). A review of this nature provides less assurance than an audit.


Based on my review described in this report, nothing has come to my attention that causes me to believe that the National Binge Drinking Campaign (November 2009 - June 2010) does not comply, in all material respects, with the requirements of the Government’s Guidelines on Campaign Advertising by Australian Government Departments and Agencies.

Steve Chapman
Deputy Auditor-General
27 October 2009