The Yarra City Council has teamed up with Vic Health, in an effort to change the drinking culture across Victoria.
Late last year, the Victorian Government announced that with the help of local councils, it plans to shift attitudes towards alcohol through ‘The Alcohol Culture Change Initiative’.
The project aims to reduce the normalisation of drunkenness among Victorians, and to teach many to enjoy their social lives without relying on alcohol.
Among the local councils contributing to the initiative is the City of Yarra, specifically focusing on the risks and issues involved with underage drinking.
Vic Health has contributed a total of three million dollars towards the 24-month project, which has been distributed between local councils around the state.
Upon the launch of the project, Vic Health acknowledged the diverse drinking habits across the state and will trial a variety of approaches tailored to each target group.
The focus of the project across some of the other councils includes: those frequently attending late night entertainment precincts (City of Melbourne), reducing risky drinking in Whittlesea and Wodonga, changing rural drinking cultures (Horsham Rural City Council), shifting the alcohol focus in middle-aged and older men (City of Maribyrnong), and improving alcohol attitudes and intake among young and older men (Mornington Peninsula Shire and Frankson City Council).
The Yarra Council will explore the risky drinking culture embedded in the 12-17 years age group, and attempt to influence a positive transition away from alcohol consumption.
To change the underage drinking culture across Victoria, the City of Yarra has begun research through a survey conducted in partnership with the Centre for Health and Social Research (CHaSR) at the Australia Catholic University (ACU) in Melbourne.
ACU researcher Chloe Gordon, who is working closely with the project, believes that parents are a key factor in the underage drinking issues across the state.
“Across Australia, the main alcohol supply is parents … we are trying to understand what are their motives, the different context in which they may be willing to supply and how that differs,” she said.
The survey is targeted at parents who live in the City of Yarra or have a child who attends school in the municipality.
While the survey is the only first stage of the Council’s exploration of underage drinking culture, Miss Gordon believes that the findings may lead to further action upon ACU’s recommendation.
“The purpose is really to understand the initial perspective of parents, and I think it’s probably the next phase of the project, if something comes out of it and we’re suggesting an intervention then we will do that.”
The survey is set to close mid-February, when ACU will begin to analyse the data and produce its report.
The survey findings will allow the City of Yarra to successfully approach the next phase of the project, which will be to help reduce risky underage drinking.
Any compelling findings from the survey will be published, in the hope of raising awareness of the problems and changing parents’ attitudes towards underage drinking.
“We want to know, what are the views of City of Yarra parents … what may benefit them? The information could be beneficial for them to know,” Miss Gordon said.
Haven’t completed the survey yet? Don’t worry … there’s still time. If you are a City of Yarra parent head to the website here and have your say.
Written by Marnie Cohen