GrogWatch Top Story - 07 May 2013

Putting teen drinking laws to work

We know through a national survey that parents are the most common source of alcohol for 15 to 17 year olds, which is why GrogWatch applauds the state governments that have brought in secondary supply laws. Critics of these laws claim that in practice they don’t stop adults supplying alcohol to young people. But no laws make a difference if they’re not communicated and enforced. Community action around promoting these new laws will go a long way towards making them work.

Last week we saw a good example of this action when Northern Beaches Community Drug Action Team (CDAT) in NSW launched the Supply Means Supply campaign. The campaign was kicked off with a survey for parents in the region to find out attitudes and behaviours around secondary supply.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that parents are under pressure to supply their children with alcohol because there is a perception that if they don’t another parent will. We want to use this survey to find out whether or not this is a myth and empower parents and others in the community with the skills to say no to secondary supply.” explains Melissa Palermo from Northern Beaches Health Promotion who helped set up the campaign.

Parent workshops are also part of the project and will explain the secondary supply legislation, talk about the harms associated with teenage drinking and give some tips on how to communicate with young people around these issues. The workshops will also help parents to link into further support programs should they need ongoing help.

The workshops and the secondary supply message will be promoted through an advertising campaign developed on a probono basis by local advertising agency Tactical Directions. The campaign will be focussed on posters in liquor stores and other licensed premises.

“In the 2008 campaign when Supply Means Supply was first launched, the liquor stores used the posters as a tool to support the refusal of sale to adults who were obviously buying for a young person. The retailers have been very happy to collaborate with us again this year, which is fantastic because this is a great way to get the community talking about secondary supply.” Melissa says.

Melissa’s advice to anyone who wants to promote the secondary supply law in their area is to involve key organisations such as local drug and alcohol services, other health organisations, the police, councils, schools and local businesses. This advice is echoed in guidelines for how to take community action.

Melissa is happy to talk with anyone who would like to set up a similar initiative and can be contacted through Northern Beaches Health Promotion or Manly Drug Education and Counselling Centre.

Support for anyone who wants to take community action on alcohol is also available through the Australian Drug Foundation’s CAAN program. Contact the program by emailing: caan@adf.org.au.

Share your experience and ideas on secondary supply campaigns with other GrogWatchers in the comments section below.