son and father

A parents right to parent

GrogWatch welcomes the recommendations released last week in the NSW Government report on Provision of Alcohol to Minors, prepared by the Social Policy Committee. If these recommendations were included in NSW’s revised secondary supply laws, it would bring their legislation in line with Queensland and Tasmania by tightening the controls parents have on how their children are introduced to alcohol.  

The NSW Social Policy Committee report stated:

There is no single solution to address the adverse impacts excessive alcohol consumption has on our community. Rather, what is needed is an approach which acknowledges the rights of parents to make private decisions about how to educate their children about alcohol, while also upholding the community expectation that giving alcohol to young people should always be done responsibly. This is why the Committee’s recommended approach involves strengthening the law to require ‘responsible supervision’, while also promoting education and clear public information as the best way to respond to young people’s alcohol consumption. 

Critics of this legislation may again cry ‘nanny state’, however this move highlights how legislation can enable people more control over their lives and empower them to trust their own judgement, especially when it comes to raising their own children.

Recent research has found that adolescent underage drinkers are twice as likely to engage in risky drinking and display alcohol-related problem behaviour when they obtain alcohol from sources other than their parents. The research finds that among adolescents who drink, parental supply is associated with moderate drinking and less alcohol-related problems.¹

In GrogWatch’s view, legislation that prohibits the irresponsible supply of alcohol to minors in domestic premises and settings has several benefits. It would:

  • contribute to reducing the prevalence and incidence of underage drinking
  • provide a community standard for parents and other adults, in the absence of a readily accepted social norm
  • contribute to educating the community about the problems inherent in allowing minors to drink alcohol
  • support parents and other adults who do not want to give alcohol to minors or encourage underage drinking
  • encourage adults to stop providing minors with alcohol
  • not interfere with parents who wish to serve their own children alcohol, or who wish to serve other children, as long as they have approval from a responsible adult.

There is no guarantee that the recommendations from the NSW Social Policy Committee will be enacted through legislation. We urge all supporters of GrogWatch and all communities within NSW to write to their local NSW MP to support the 8 recommendations in the report.

News articles on the NSW Social Policy Committee’s report:

Stopping underage binge drinking: pollNewcastle Herald, 13 September 2013

EDITORIAL: Children drinking alcohol – Newcastle Herald, 13 September 2013

Reference

Dietze PM, Livingston M. (2010) The relationship between alcohol supply source and young people’s risky drinking and alcohol-related problem behaviours in Victoria, Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 34:4, pp.364-367.