If you are watching the Australian Open, you will be in no doubt that Australia Day is nearly upon us. With every ad break we are reminded to stock up on alcohol for the big day. But Australia’s drinking culture is hardly something to rejoice.
Whether you drink or not, the statistics around the likelihood you will experience alcohol-related harm on Australia Day are sobering. Research by VicHealth and Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre between 2000 and 2009 has found that Australia Day is one of the most dangerous days of the year, with more than double the usual number of ambulance call-outs and a 50 per cent increase in emergency department presentations.
In fact, people aged under 25 years are more likely to experience assault, car accidents and intoxication requiring emergency care on Australia Day than any other day of the year. Across all age groups, alcohol-related harm on Australia Day is second only to New Year’s Eve.
So how can we celebrate Australia Day?
While the northern hemisphere freezes, we can enjoy the warm weather by getting outside and visiting a park or beach and picking up the cricket bat or footy to celebrate our great Australian sporting culture. In fact, more than 80 per cent of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the beach, so we really have no excuse for sitting around and drinking.
There are also lots of free activities on around the country from comedy debates, to family fun days to fireworks. The Australia Day website makes it easy to find out what’s going on in your area.
If you are organising or attending an Australia Day party here are some tips for making it fun and safe.
Let us know your ideas for how we can celebrate, be safe and have fun on Australia Day. You can leave a comment at the end of this article or post a story.