Al­co­hol cul­ture change pro­gram

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY SARAH SCULLY

Hor­sham Ru­ral City coun­cil­lors hope ed­u­ca­tion and youth par­tic­i­pa­tion in an al­co­hol cul­ture change pro­gram will re­duce high-risk drink­ing be­hav­ior in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s youth.

The coun­cil will ap­point a re­searcher to work on the pro­gram, which will in­cor­po­rate ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial mar­ket­ing and rais­ing aware­ness to re­duce the ef­fect of ru­ral drink­ing cul­ture on youth be­hav­iour.

The Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices has pro­vided $270,000 over two years to im­ple­ment the coun­cil’s pro­posed cul­ture change project.

The project will sup­port par­ents to pro­vide stronger role mod­els for al­co­hol use; sup­port young peo­ple to bet­ter un­der­stand the is­sue of al­co­hol and its ef­fects; and pro­vide al­ter­na­tive ac­tiv­i­ties, driven by young peo­ple, to par­ties and gath­er­ings.

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Brown said the coun­cil was for­tu­nate to re­ceive funding for its pro­posal.

“It has been in the pipeline for two years or more,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot of new in­for­ma­tion that’s come about in the past 10 years of the ef­fects of al­co­hol on de­vel­op­ing brains and bod­ies – it’s the sort of in­for­ma­tion we didn’t have 20 years ago.

“It is im­por­tant we try to sort out the prob­lem lo­cally.”

Com­mu­nity ser­vices di­rec­tor Kevin O’brien said the coun­cil had ad­ver­tised the two-year po­si­tion.

He said the project would in­volve a part­ner­ship with Fed­er­a­tion Uni­ver­sity, Grampians Com­mu­nity Health, Vic­to­ria Po­lice, schools and other ed­u­ca­tion providers.

“There will also need to be a strong in­put from young peo­ple,” he said.

“This will be done through a tar­get pop­u­la­tion lead­er­ship group, which will have an im­por­tant role in de­sign­ing the details of our youth en­gage­ment strate­gies.”

In­cen­tives

Cr Mark Radford sug­gested the coun­cil look at pro­vid­ing in­cen­tives for peo­ple who chose to run al­co­hol-free events, or ‘car­rots’ to en­cour­age peo­ple to change their be­hav­ior.

“The aim of the cul­ture change pro­gram is not to stop peo­ple drink­ing, but to re­duce al­co­hol con­sump­tion in young peo­ple,” he said.

“We have a prob­lem with 12-year-old kids to 18-yearolds drink­ing too much.

“That’s an in­cred­i­ble thing to say. It’s great to see some­thing be­ing done about it.”

Mayor Pam Clarke said the funding would al­low the coun­cil to work on the ‘real’ is­sues iden­ti­fied in stage one of the project, in­clud­ing ease of ac­cess to al­co­hol; par­ents and peers shap­ing and in­flu­enc­ing be­hav­ior; and gen­der dif­fer­ences in pat­terns of drink­ing and in the level and type of risk-tak­ing be­hav­ior.

“We’ve found what the is­sues are, now it’s about get­ting to the tin­tacks and try­ing to get some change through ed­u­ca­tion and through sup­port­ing peo­ple to un­der­stand the ef­fects of al­co­hol on young minds and bod­ies,” she said.

“It’s quite chal­leng­ing to not drink or be a non-drinker in to­day’s so­ci­ety. I think it’s great we’ve got the money and that we’ve got the pro­gram.”

Cr Alethea Sedg­man said the project needed to have a strong fo­cus on en­ter­tain­ment op­tions to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive to ‘pub life’. She said the project needed a wider fo­cus.

“Why are we tar­get­ing just age 12? Why not get them ear­lier be­fore they turn 12 and in­grain in them drink­ing is not a good thing for a de­vel­op­ing body,” she said.

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