Geelong collaboration to reduce underage drinking

Members of the Geelong community have thrown their support behind a new local campaign to reduce early age alcohol use.

The BCYF Communities That Care Geelong (CTC) campaign, in collaboration with the Geelong Cats, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation and AFL Barwon, is asking local venues who sell alcohol to consider asking all customers for identification.

The initiative which launches across participating venues, clubs and alcohol outlets this month aims to reduce early alcohol use and the ability of young people under the age of 18 to purchase alcohol.

Many Geelong personalities have put their faces to the campaign, including Geelong Cats great Andrew Bews and current players Cameron Guthrie and Renee Garing as well as Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher.

The CTC program is designed to prevent problem behaviours in teenagers by reducing risk factors to problematic social issues. Monitoring alcohol sales in the community is a core component of the CTC Geelong program.

Currently, it is considered best practice to ask anybody who looks under the age of 25 for ID when purchasing alcohol. BCYF CTC Coordinator Louise McDonald said this new campaign encourages licensees and their staff to ask every customer for ID.

“Understandably it is often difficult to determine how old someone looks – so to remove this pressure from the sales person, our approach is to ask everybody for ID regardless of their age to assist in the delivery of healthy practices,” she said.

“Australia’s national alcohol guidelines clearly state that the safest option for young people is not to use alcohol before they turn 18. The earlier a young person starts drinking, the more likely they are to have impaired brain development, poor mental health and alcohol problems later in life.”

Many notable Geelong residents have put their faces to the campaign as a sign of support, including Geelong Cats footballers, Renee Garing and Cameron Guthrie and Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said “A good time doesn’t always have to involve alcohol, it’s often something people feel compelled to do to join in. I can vouch for the fact that people stop noticing if you don’t have a drink! This is really good work from the BCYF to take a responsible approach.”

Former Geelong Football Club great, Andrew Bews, who also features on the poster said “this is a very important initiative and will no doubt have an impact in the community.”

Ms McDonald urged all adults, including parents, not to supply or sell alcohol to children under 18 years.

“We encourage parents to prevent their children, and their children’s friends, from consuming alcohol before they turn 18,” she said.

She added that a new report released in August 2020 by researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), found no evidence that parental supply of alcohol to adolescents has a protective effect to avoid later alcohol harms.

“Parents sometimes have the fear that if they don’t allow alcohol use at home, their children may rebel and use alcohol behind their backs. However, new research shows that young people who are allowed to drink before 18 with parent supervision are more likely to binge drink and drink more heavily when there is no parent supervision.”

Copies of the poster will be distributed at no cost to local alcohol outlets including sporting clubs. To access a copy contact Louise McDonald at BCYF on 0418 210 865 or email louise.mcdonald@bcyf.org.au

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