The Commissioner for Children and Young People Colin Pettit has supported yesterday’s recommendation by the Deputy Coroner for increased education for young people on the dangers of alcohol but has said this alone will not make significant improvements to levels of alcohol-related harm.
Mr Pettit said children and young people told his office in a previous consultation that a community-wide culture of alcohol and excessive drinking and the ready availability of alcohol significantly influences their decisions about drinking.
“Young people’s behaviours, including those associated with alcohol consumption, are directly influenced by the community in which they live, parents and popular culture,” Mr Pettit said.
“Schools have an important role to play in ensuring young people have access to factual information concerning alcohol, including the very dangerous effects of excessive alcohol consumption, but schools work will be largely wasted unless we strengthen our efforts to make cultural and community change.
“What should be of concern to all of us is young people’s perceptions that alcohol is ‘everywhere’, consumed to excess by adults, easily accessible and strongly associated with socialising and having ‘a good time’.
Mr Pettit said strategies that should be part of an integrated program to reduce alcohol-related harm include:
- education and support for parents
- restricting the advertising and promotion of alcohol, particularly to which children are exposed
- more alcohol-free events for young people
- public health campaigns addressing the culture of excessive alcohol consumption.
“There are many positive programs in schools and the community but the level of alcohol-related harm in the community indicates that more must be done,” the Commissioner said.
Mr Pettit passes his sincere condolences to family members of Ms Bicknell.
“The loss of a young life is extremely sad, and I wish to be clear that my comments on this topic are general in nature and not at all related to this tragic event.”
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