Categories: General Date: Aug 7, 2018 Title: Improving attitudes to adolescent alcohol use in the Alpine Shire
Many communities across Victoria are concerned about teenage alcohol consumption, with research showing that young people are more likely to develop social, cognitive and emotional issues if they use alcohol before the age of 18. “Australia’s national alcohol guidelines clearly state that the safest option for young people is not to use alcohol before they turn 18. The earlier a young person starts drinking, the more likely they are to have impaired brain development and alcohol problems later in life,” said Professor John Toumbourou, Chair in Health Psychology at Deakin University.
In communities where it is hard for adolescents to obtain alcohol, there is less teenage alcohol use and fewer alcohol-related injuries, assaults, and deaths. These communities also have higher rates of school completion. According to research conducted by the Australian Government in 2014, approximately 68% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 reported drinking alcohol in their lifetime. When asked where they obtained their alcohol, over 80% reported getting it from three sources: home, friends, and acquaintances, or by purchasing it themselves from bottle shops.
These statistics are behind the decision of Communities That Care Alpine to participate in the national Smart Generation Program coordinated by Deakin University. The program aims to help young people across Australia to become a ‘smarter generation’ by reducing high rates of underage drinking.
The Smart Generation Program is being implemented in a number of communities across Australia and includes a school-based education program aimed at students and parents and monitoring alcohol sales in bottle shops. Our recent research shows that while some staff are complying with the law, others need to do much more
The alcohol monitoring component of the Smart Generation program involves young people aged 18-22, but who look underage, going into local bottle shops to attempt to purchase alcohol without a valid ID. “Our recent research revealed that three of the six bottle shops across the Alpine Shire did not comply,” said Lisa Neville, Communities That Care Alpine Coordinator. This is a concerning statistic, as bottle shop purchases are one of the three main sources of alcohol for teenagers.
“As part of the program, we have sent letters to all licensees and managers, either congratulating them for not selling alcohol to a young person or reminding them of the law and of best-practice in the service of alcohol.
“We want managers to be very clear in their feedback to staff. We encourage licensees and managers to tell them: ‘when you sell alcohol to teenagers, you are failing in your job’.”
Research shows that in families where parents set a rule that children are not to use alcohol, there are lower rates of underage alcohol use. In contrast, in families where parents allow moderate alcohol use, children are more likely to rebel with heavy and harmful alcohol use. In line with this research, Communities That Care Alpine also urges all adults, including parents, not to supply or sell alcohol to children under 18.
Tony Finlaw – Leading Senior Constable, Victoria Police - Bright noted that “The number of young people consuming alcohol in the Alpine Shire is above the national average and this consumption has many harmful impacts on our children and community. We support Communities that Care Alpine’s call for adults not to supply children under the age of 18 with alcohol. We wish to remind adults that it is an offence to supply liquor to an underage person and those caught doing so will be issued an infringement notice which carries a fine $1934”.
For more information or an interview on the recent research and the Smart Generation implementation in the Alpine Shire please contact Lisa Neville – CTCA coordinator at Alpine Health on 5755 0132
For more information on The Smart Generation, please contact Professor John Toumbourou, Chair in Health Psychology at Deakin University on 0400 502 938