BCYF (Barwon Child, Youth & Family) is commending an increased vigilance in Geelong bottle shops when asking customers for identification, a positive in combating underage consumption of alcohol.
This comes after a successful round of alcohol supply monitoring, which sees young people, aged 18-22 who look underage, attempting to purchase alcohol without valid identification.
BCYF’s Communities That Care (CTC) program has been implementing the monitoring as part of national initiative, the Smart Generation, since 2017.
The Smart Generation program is coordinated by Deakin University and aims to help young people across Australia to become a ‘smarter generation’ by reducing high rates of underage drinking.
Of the alcohol outlets observed in Corio, Norlane and Lara, 56% refused to sell alcohol to youth that looked underage without sighting identification.
This is an improvement from a survey in 2019, where only 47% of bottle shops asked for identification.
BCYF CTC Coordinator Louise McDonald praised local alcohol outlets for their compliance in not serving young people alcohol without sighting a valid ID.
“It is fantastic to see an increase in our local bottle shops committed to the health and wellbeing of our young people,” Ms McDonald said.
“The more alcohol outlets that understand the importance of following protocol ultimately helps our overall community effort to reduce early age alcohol use.”
Ms McDonald said it was important for all retailers of alcohol to ask for identification.
“While we’re very pleased that the CTC supply monitoring activity has seen an increase in the number of alcohol outlets observing ID-checking, there’s still room for improvement,” she said.
“It is often difficult to determine how old someone looks and the evidence suggests that asking everybody for ID regardless of their age contributes to safer alcohol sales and helps keep young people safe.”
She also urged all adults, including parents, not to supply or sell alcohol to children under 18.
New Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol released in December 2020 state, to reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.
“Australia’s national alcohol guidelines clearly state that the safest option for young people is not to use alcohol before they turn 18,” Ms McDonald said.
The brain continues to develop until about 25 years of age, and developing brains are more sensitive to damage from alcohol.
Alcohol is responsible for one-third of deaths and acute injury events (such as road accidents) among adolescents and young adults. Supplying alcohol to underage youth has many negative health and social consequences and increases the risk of developing problems with alcohol, which can appear in early adulthood.