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Asia Minute: Changes for some Australian corporate holiday parties

The holiday season can be a difficult time to avoid alcohol.
Henry Diltz
Getty Images

Health officials around the state are urging caution as you celebrate New Year’s Eve tonight. And concerns are not just about COVID-19. Alcohol is a focus during this season — and this year that has led to some changes in Australia.

Holiday parties have taken on a new set of concerns during the pandemic.

Many companies have cut back on the practice, especially in this time of physical distancing.

But even apart from COVID, there are other issues that have lingered for years — such as alcohol consumption.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that company parties at several well-known Australian firms have taken some extra steps in that area during this holiday season.

That includes some of the biggest names in the mining, oil and gas and metals sectors.

Corporate parties in these industries have come under fire in the past for excess consumption of alcohol, so several companies made a change this year: limiting the number of drinks to four per person.

Some critics have pointed out that four drinks do not exactly define a small amount of alcohol, especially if they’re consumed in a relatively short period of time.

But the companies are calling it progress. The ABC confirmed a policy shift to the four-drink maximum at the two largest metals and mining corporations in the world: BHP and Rio Tinto, as well as oil and gas company Woodside Energy.

The network quoted a human resources consultant who called the move long overdue—adding that it’s “actually just a broader recognition that this is a workplace health and safety issue.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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