Rudd Declares War On Binge Drinking With $53m Fund

Rudd Declares War on Binge Drinking With $53m Fund

I’m glad Prime Minister Rudd has put this money towards stopping binge drinking. I wonder though how effective these measures will be:

-codes of conduct for sporting clubs
-stronger powers for authorities
-a national advertising program

Sport & Alcohol
The tie between sport and alcohol is strong. I grew up in country SA going to the footy, netball and cricket with Dad and everyone drank after the game. I didn’t like it as a kid. As I grew up more school friends and acquaintances were killed or seriously injured from drinking and driving but I still started drinking to excess when I was 14 and didn’t stop until I was about 22.

Role Models
What kind of messages are we sending young people today? Are us older people at sporting clubs setting a good example? No, in my experience, we aren’t. We need to be setting the right example in our own lives as parents, then we can ask the same of our politicians, public servants, community leaders, sporting heroes, TV personalities etc.

Truth In Advertising
It’s a double standard and a confusing message to young people to be decrying excessive drinking on one hand and promoting it on the other. Not just TV ads Mr Rudd but on TV shows as well. Home & Away, not that I like the show, with a whole series of episodes on drinking, drink driving, drinking and sexual assault and drinking and violence. Not just newspaper ads but in newspaper articles too and leaving out pictures of famous sports people celebrating wins by drinking. Reduction in alcohol advertising too.

Money For Community Groups
Maybe different ways of funding community groups will result from this ‘declaration of war’. Teen Challenge’s services in drug rehabilitation & prevention programs are expanding in South Australia as demand is increasing but the money to do the work isn’t. There are ‘grass roots’ organisations in Australia running good, effective programs. The community as well as the government needs to get behind them and support them in every way they can.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure
A wide range of prevention programs in primary and high schools, sporting clubs, youth groups etc will have an effect if they’re good programs. ‘Just Say No’ wasn’t one of them. I’ve facilitated the Teen Challenge ‘In Focus’ program in schools and would like to see more schools open to this and other valuable programs. Using a similar approach is the ‘Scared Straight’ program, used in the US. South Australian Correctional Services ‘Straight Talk’ program was axed a number of years ago, maybe something like this could be re-instituted? Another axed program which I was a facilitator for was the Kid’s Helpline Peer Skills Program. This excellent program saw trained facilitators teach groups of young people how to be a peer support person to the young people around them. Many schools saw positive changes in individuals and the school environment after running these programs. I was very disappointed to see this program go. I wonder what, if anything, has been put in its place?

Peer To Peer
There are terrific peer role models around. Their collective power needs to be harnessed and used in this fight also. They can put the word out face to face and on myspace, youtube and facebook, in popular music and culture.

I guess now it’s a bit of agitate for change and wait and see what the Rudd government will do.

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