By Andrew Starke

A new responsible drinking campaign aimed at cutting the underage drinking epidemic and aimed directly at local teenagers is about to be trialled in the South West Slopes.

AHA (NSW) CEO Sally Fielke said the ‘Be Smart before You Start’ campaign was the brainchild of publicans Scott Kennedy (The Mill Tavern) and Andrew Pratt (Great Eastern Hotel).

The aim is to educate 15 and 17 year-old students while they are still at school by directly addressing students in Years 10 and 12 about responsible drinking and the dangers of underage drinking.

“We want people to have a good night – not a good fight,” Kennedy said.
“A lot of our alcohol problems here involve young people, drinking to get drunk. We want to educate the 15-year-olds about the dangers of binge drinking, the effect it has on them and their behaviour and also the dangers of secondary supply of alcohol.

“Anecdotal evidence shows that the vast majority of teenagers get their alcohol from their parents, we want that to change.

“With the second program – targeting the 17-year-olds – we want to tell them what’s expected of them in and around licensed premises when they turn 18, they need to know the law and that anti-social behaviour won’t be tolerated.

“The hotel is our house – when you are there you are a visitor in our home, we expect you to behave.”

Pratt said police and paramedics were also expected to take part in a series of school lectures he hoped would get underway in 2011. CCTV and video footage would also be used.

“This is a long term project that is all about changing perceptions,” he said.

“We have the support of the local police, council, the local liquor accord members and have discussed the matter with local principals who have also been very supportive.”

Fielke said the unique program was perfect evidence of how the community can work together to solve problems.

The Shout Team

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