Hon Helen Morton MLC

Hon Helen Morton MLC

Former Minister for Mental Health; Disability Services; Child Protection

    WA youth drinking rates lowest in a decade

    13/03/2016 10:45 AM
    • Fewer 12 to 17-year-olds drink alcohol in 2014 compared with 2011
    • Fewer young people consume alcohol at high-risk levels
    • 96% of parents understand that no alcohol is the safest choice for young people 

    State Government initiatives to reduce alcohol consumption in young people have resulted in fewer young people aged 12 to 17 consuming alcohol than at any time in the past decade.


    Launching the latest phase of the Parents, Young People and Alcohol campaign today, Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said not only were fewer young people drinking, of those who drank, fewer drank at risky levels.


    "The latest survey of Western Australian school students shows the proportion choosing not to drink alcohol has more than doubled from 12.3 per cent in 2005 to 31.5 per cent in 2014," Mrs Morton said.


    "This indicates harm-reduction messages are helping change their decisions and behaviour.


    "This reflects the important contribution prevention campaigns are making in targeting young people and parents with the message that drinking at a young age is a risk to their health and wellbeing."


    The Minister said family and friends were the main source of alcohol for young people.


    "The State Government's new secondary supply laws, which ban providing alcohol to children in private settings without parental consent, empowers parents to deny access to alcohol," she said.


    Mrs Morton said the survey also found that the young people who did drink were doing so less often.


    The proportion of students who said they had drunk alcohol in the week and month prior to the survey had almost halved between 2005 and 2014. Of those who drank in the previous week, fewer were drinking at risky levels or with the intent of getting drunk.


    "Messages are getting through to older teenagers, particularly boys, with four times more 16 and 17-year-old boys choosing not to drink in 2014 compared with 2005 and those who did drink, doing so less often," the Minister said.


    "We also have positive indications that more young people are finding it easier to say 'no' to alcohol offered by friends."


    Research also showed that almost all parents (96 per cent) were now aware that no alcohol was the safest choice for under 18s, up from 68 per cent in 2012. More than 60 per cent now denied access to alcohol, compared with 56 per cent in 2012. 


    Mrs Morton said the Parents, Young People and Alcohol campaign would reinforce the message that no-one should provide alcohol to under 18s.


    "It will also highlight the risks of underage drinking, including long-term brain damage, injury and the consequences of poor decisions," she said.


    The Minister also launched a new resource kit for parents developed by the Mental Health Commission and School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA) available from today for use in secondary schools.


    "This parent engagement kit offers parents and school communities resources and practical tips to reinforce the message that it is safest to prevent and delay alcohol consumption by young people," she said.


    Fact File

    • Between 2005-14, the proportion of young people reporting having drunk alcohol in the past month has reduced (43.5% to 23.9%) and in the past week, halved (28.9% to 13.9%)
    • Statistics are drawn from the Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug survey of WA school students' drug and alcohol use, conducted every three years.  In 2014, 3,305 students in Years 7 to 12 from 46 public, Catholic and independent schools completed the survey
    • Parental attitude results were compiled from campaign tracking research between 2012-15
    • National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines state no level of alcohol consumption is safe for children and young people under 18 years of age
    • The Alcohol.Think Again Parents, Young People and Alcohol campaign was first launched in 2012
    • For more information on new secondary supply laws, to view campaign materials and access the SDERA kit, visit http://alcoholthinkagain.com.au  

    Minister's office - 6552 6900