By Andrew Starke

DrinkWise Australia today (August 24) launched a national campaign to help Australian parents delay the age at which their teens first drink alcohol.

The campaign, Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix, was launched by Sport Australia Hall of Famer, DrinkWise ambassador and mother of two, Susie O’Neill OAM.

It is based on growing scientific evidence that alcohol has the potential to disrupt the critical development of the teenage brain, resulting in teenagers who drink alcohol too early risking not reaching their full potential as adults.

Executive director at the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney, Professor Ian Hickie, said that the new and ongoing research leaves no doubt that delaying a teen’s initiation to alcohol is the right approach.

“From a brain science point of view, you would not mix alcohol and a teenage brain at any period,” he said. “The idea that you would expose a teenage brain early to alcohol, to socialise it, is dangerous. The earlier you expose the brain to alcohol, the more likely you are to damage the developing brain.”

Chair of DrinkWise Australia, Trish Worth, said: “Now that we know the facts about drinking and the adolescent brain, we want to ignite a national parent-to-parent conversation about the importance of delaying teen introduction to alcohol.
“This will be a huge step towards changing a culture which currently permits our young people to drink too much, too young.”

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) welcomed the campaign launch.

The AHA’s National CEO, Bill Healey, said: “Far too many people – including young people – are drinking to get drunk and this must change.

“The AHA believes there is no ‘silver bullet’ to reduce the inappropriate consumption of alcohol and the anti-social behaviour and community concerns it causes.

“Real improvements will take time to develop the necessary cultural change.”

The AHA says the development of trust across key stakeholders and the application of evidence-based solutions to identified problems are vitally important in this process.

“Today’s launch is another important step in fostering that cultural change,” Healey said.

Over the past five decades, the average age of initiation to alcohol in Australia has dropped from 19 to 15.5 years and studies show that the early onset of drinking is more likely to result in risky adult drinking behaviours in later life.

The campaign includes a new television commercial to be aired from 6pm tonight as well as a fully interactive parent-friendly website. To access this, click here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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