Tough Stance on Safe and Responsible Drinking

  • Deborah Morris
Youth Affairs

Hon Deborah Morris today welcomed the launch of the new ALAC campaign, "Where's that drink taking you?".

The Minister of Youth Affairs said, "Earlier this year I supported the proposal to lower the drinking age to 18 years. My support however was qualified. If the drinking age is lowered I believe age identification cards should be introduced and there should be no exceptions to the age at which alcohol can be purchased.

"Hosts have a responsibility to ensure that patrons aren't drunk and that people under the legal drinking age are not being served. An age identification card would not only assist hosts in fulfilling their legal responsibility, but would also assist those young people who are legally entitled to drink.

"The ALAC survey reveals that young people who are lighter drinkers are more likely to have been given alcohol by their parents. Heavier drinkers are more likely to have obtained the alcohol themselves. I think this clearly shows the need for not only educating young people, but also educating parents as to their role in ensuring that their children are safe.

"With up to 94% of 16 - 18 year old males already drinking alcohol, I believe we need to ensure that we promote safe and sensible drinking rather than duck the issue and pretend it doesn't happen.

"Increased drinking by even younger people can be addressed by better enforcement of the legal drinking age and through educational promotions such as the ALAC campaign launched today.

"We need to get the message out to young people that it is not okay to get drunk. Four out of five young people in the ALAC survey believed that drinking can damage your image. That message needs to be reinforced. Young people have been influenced by the drink-drive campaigns in recent years, and I hope that the ALAC campaign will have a similar effect on young people's attitudes towards drunks and heavy drinking.

"ALAC's survey reveals that a quarter of 14 - 18 year olds are heavy drinkers. Most of them aren't even aware they are heavy drinkers or of the risks associated with binge drinking. We need to educate not only young people, but adults too, about the problems associated with heavy drinking, such as unwanted sex or harassment, smoking, drug use, drunk driving and violence.

"It is important to get a message out to young people that it is okay to say "NO" and abstain from drinking. Many young people already appoint designated drivers who don't drink, and I believe this practice encourages a more sensible attitude to drinking alcohol.

"Parents need to be aware of products such as 'alcopops' which appear to be designed to attract young people. An increased awareness by parents and a willingness to make their views known to the alcohol industry is needed to successfully address this issue.

"I am committed to ensuring that the alcohol industry is not targeting young people in it's advertisements and labelling. The Distilled Spirits Association has issued guidelines recommending that marketing techniques should not have special appeal to underage drinkers, be easily confused with soft drinks, have sexual connotations or be linked to youth culture heroes.

"Fifteen liquor companies have agreed to this code and I am encouraged by this. However, the code does not cover drinks already on the market, and I have asked that my officials continue to work with the Distilled Spirits Association and ALAC to strengthen the code," concluded Deborah Morris.