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Yarra Ranges will roll out an alcohol supply monitoring program to help curb underage drinking and encourage better health and wellbeing for young people.
The Communities that Care program involves getting young people aged 18-22 who look underage attempting to purchase alcohol from bottleshops without a valid ID.
Program coordinator at EACH, Deborah Cocks, said research showed that in a sample of bottle shops in the Yarra Ranges, only 40 per cent asked young people for ID.
“We want managers of alcohol outlets to be very clear in their feedback to staff,” Ms Cocks said.
“We encourage licensees and managers to discuss with their staff the fact that, when you sell alcohol to teenagers, you’re failing in your job.
“As part of this program, letters go to all licensees and managers, either congratulating them for not selling alcohol to a young person without ID, or reminding them of the law and best practice in the service of alcohol.”
The program has been implemented in Knox through Communities that Care Knox, auspiced by EACH, and will be rolled out to the Yarra Ranges through 2018.
Research shows that young people are more likely to develop social, cognitive and emotional issues if they use alcohol before turning 18. The younger this drinking starts, the more likely they are to have impaired brain development and alcohol problems later in life.
Yarra Ranges Council Mayor, Cr Len Cox, said it was important that families and friends lend a hand to discourage underage drinking.
“In our Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2017-21, one of our goals is ensuring that people who do drink alcohol do so in moderation and safety,” Cr Cox said.
“The research clearly shows that underage drinking simply isn’t safe and can lead to negative consequences down the track.
“Drinking alcohol is ingrained in Australian culture, events and advertising, but it’s important that we build a healthy attitude towards drinking. The best way to do that is by talking to your friends and family about the harm that alcohol can have.”
Australian Government research from 2014 showed that about 68 per cent of teenagers between the ages of 12-17 reported drinking alcohol. When asked how they sourced the alcohol, 80 per cent reported getting it from three sources – their parents or home, friends and acquaintances or by purchasing it themselves.
“To reinforce the messages of program, we encourage parents to discuss alcohol use with their children and really support them by setting clear rules and guidelines about not drinking alcohol until they are 18 years old,” Ms Cocks said.
“Parents sometimes fear that if they don’t allow drinking at home, their children may then use alcohol behind their backs, but research shows that families with rules about not using alcohol results in lower rates of underage drinking.
“In contrast, in families where parents allow moderate drinking, children are more likely to rebel and partake in more heavy and harmful alcohol use.
“We need parents to support children at home and in our community by uniting on this issue.”
Read more about the Communities that Care program at https://goo.gl/F2axWc or call EACH on 1300 00 3224.
 

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