EDUCATION KEY TO RESPONSIBLE ALCOHOL USE SAY MINISTERS

  • Tony Ryall
Youth Affairs

Education Minister Nick Smith and Youth Affairs Minister Tony Ryall say that education will be the key in ensuring young people do not abuse the lower drinking age agreed on by Parliament last night and have asked the Education, Health and Youth Affairs Ministries to provide advice on additional programmes to promote the responsible use of alcohol.

"We need to ensure young people are well informed of the risks of alcohol abuse, particularly during the transition to the new age of 18. Young people also need to know the tough identity requirements and the increased penalties for breach of the new law. We have asked the Ministries of Education, Youth Affairs and Health to work together on a programme that can be implemented as soon as possible in response to the law change", Mr Smith and Mr Ryall said.

"There are already some excellent programmes on the risks of alcohol abuse, and the new Health and Physical Education Curriculum launched this year puts more emphasis on life skills and knowledge. We need to build on these to give young people the skills and knowledge to make informed choices on alcohol."

The Ministers said that officials would be asked to move as quickly as possible on developing a suitable package for secondary schools that would integrate with the new curriculum and work with existing programmes. Information packages would also be developed for use in universities and polytechnics.

"Young people today are more mature than their predecessors and are quite capable of making responsible choices on alcohol if equipped with good quality information. Our challenge is to help provide that information."