Background

In recent years the Australian Federal and State Governments have produced a number of campaigns dealing with Drink Driving, Alcohol Fuelled Violence in Australia’s youth and Australia’s alcohol culture

These campaigns have been “Scare Advertising Campaigns” and have been developed based on a number of misguided assumptions. Principally, the messages have become more strident, more scare.

The focus of the advertising is those few hardened individuals who continue to disregard any request or appeal to modify their behaviour.

So either each new generation needs more scare or the campaigns are targeted those generations that have got older without heeding the previous campaigns. Either way, the future drivers and the future drinkers are not the target of these campaigns.

The present approach does not talk to youth who are unable to lawfully drink at a bar or lawfully drive on the roads. This is the youth that is exposed to alcohol in social situations or to drink driving as a passenger.

The present campaigns have failed to resonate with the younger population of Australia, as they progress through their secondary school years.

Several Hundred Million dollars are being spent annually on these advertising campaigns. The visual and narrative of these scare campaigns do not connect with high school students.

The scare campaign is not a message that the youth, our children, hear.

These scare campaigns are aimed at individuals who are already used to making poor decisions. These government campaigns use traditional media and traditional approaches and do not connect with the present generation of youth.

Messages of increased fines, enhanced chances of being caught, greater risk of injury or death do not get through to many children when they are going through their “invincible stage”.

They do not counter the impacts of peer pressure and the enormous desire to fit in that influence decision making at this stage of their development.

They do not give our children the knowledge and skills to make better decisions.

State governments have rightly legislated for protection of youth and their move to educate those serving alcohol is a major step forward. This present focus is on the hospitality industry and places responsibility on the owner of the premises and their staff.

Currently Responsible Alcohol Education Programs target service providers and not the youth seeking alcohol. There are many programs dealing with the impacts of alcohol in the community and seeking and supporting behavioural and attitudinal change to alcohol. Programs such as “Hello Sunday Morning” and “Australian Drug Foundation” are good examples.

In this transition stage from youth to adult, more needs to be done to help our youth live with alcohol instead of living for alcohol. We aim to educate and legislate in ways that help our youth emerge as young adults free of harm with their mates. In this way they will be able to contribute effectively in tomorrow’s society.

This approach of annual awareness reaches out to youth while their views and attitudes are being formed. The program will provide insight into the impact of alcohol in society, the measures being taken to reduce these impacts and the extent of alcohol related harm.

After many years of watching statistics confirm we are as a nation not reducing the impacts of alcohol on society we continue to observe the Federal and State Government bodies waste more funds guessing how to tackle the problem.

At a time when Alcohol misuse costs the Australian economy more than $40 billion dollars per annum, the government still allows manufacturers to continue targeting our young and vulnerable.

Sadly scenes of anti-social behaviour are now all too common in our pubs and clubs, on our streets and beaches, and in other social settings.

But for many Australians unfortunately, the conversation hasn’t progressed from simply putting the onus of alcohol misuse solely on the drinker with little or no recognition that tackling such a problem is a shared responsibility for everyone. ”Anti-alcohol” lobby groups thrive in using the silly season as an example to wave their finger at the companies which produce these alcoholic brands but with very little results.

The alcohol industry continues to argue that to combat under-age and irresponsible drinking among young people, individuals need to take responsibility for their actions.

We disagree. This growing human and financial cost is now such a concern it has been identified as a priority issue by the World Health Organization with targets being discussed for nations around the world.

The Federal and State Governments in Australia continue to wrongly take a route of “Scare Advertising Campaigns” to reduce Drink Driving and Alcohol Fuelled Violence in Australia’s youth.

This action has failed to resonate with the younger population of Australia.

The present cost of Several Hundred Million dollars spent in advertising campaigns each year targeting those few people who are already hardened against this message and who continue to disregard any attempt to modify their behaviour is not a message that the youth, and our children hear.

It’s time for real action. “Educate | Legislate” It’s the only way.

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