DrinkWise to revive underage drinking campaign following worrying AIHW survey results

February 29, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Following concerning data in the recent Australian Institute of Health & Welfare’s (AIHW) National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022-2023, DrinkWise has announced that it will be refocusing its efforts on educating parents about the risks of underage drinking. To achieve this, the organisation will revitalise its existing ‘It’s okay to say nay’ campaign, which was first launched nationally in 2022.

While the results revealed some improvements, they also brought to light various concerning statistics. One point of concern is the 32% of Australians that believe that a 16- or 17-year-old can occasionally drink one or two standard drinks without putting their health at risk. When Australian’s aged between 14 and 17 were asked the same question, 50% believed it to be of no major concern.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in underage teenagers abstaining from alcohol over the past 15 years,” said Simon Strahan, DrinkWise’s CEO.

“While that is pleasing, it is worrying that a significant proportion of Australians think that underaged teenagers having an occasional drink doesn’t put their health at risk.”

The survey also showed that 89% of parents in Australia do not supply their underage teenagers with alcohol, a 2% increase since the 2019 survey. Despite this, Stahan still believes that more work needs to be done.

“We know that abstaining from alcohol when underage helps protect teenagers, so we want to reassure parents that not supplying alcohol is the right thing to do,” said Strahan.

We also want to remind parents that the overwhelming majority of other parents aren’t supplying their kids with alcohol – so they can be confident in saying no.”

The DrinkWise ‘It’s okay to say nay’ campaign will update existing campaign material with the new AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey data and will be promoted across TV, radio, digital, and social media.

“This campaign is such an important public health campaign as the advice to parents is clear – just say no to giving your kids alcohol.” said Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, an adolescent psychologist. 

“Whilst the overwhelming majority of parents are doing the right thing, this misconception that alcohol is not harmful for underage teenagers is extremely worrying.

“Teenagers who do drink underage are more likely to binge drink, experience alcohol-related harm such as accidents, blackouts and be involved in fights or problematic drinking in their future adolescent years. My advice to parents is to start the conversation around alcohol early and have it often so you can help your underage teenagers make the smart choice to abstain from drinking,” he said. 

DrinkWise was first established in 2005 and is an independent and not-for-profit organisation that partners with government, community leaders and organisations to bring about its ongoing goal of creating a safer drinking culture in Australia. A few recent DrinkWise initiatives include its free ‘Stay tasteful while tasting’ scratchies that all cellars doors are encouraged to use, a campaign to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, the rollout of in-store signage offering easy access to alcohol abuse support services across all 960 national Liquorland, First Choice Liquor Market, and Vintage Cellars stores, and its partnership with Endeavour during last year’s footy finals season that encouraged fans to employ moderation and to act respectfully.

Cellar doors looking to access the free ‘Stay tasteful while tasting’ resources are encouraged to contact info@drinkwise.org.au.

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