Parents take action

Parents take action as schoolies approaches

The Western Australian (WA) Government may have missed an excellent opportunity to prevent alcohol-related harm amongst young people during schoolies this year by delaying the Liquor Control Act review yet again, but this hasn’t stopped parents ensuring the issue doesn’t slip from the agenda. Last Friday secondary supply campaigner and parent, Samantha Menezes, appeared on ABC’s 7.30 Report illustrating that parents want more control over who gives their children alcohol.

The WA Minister Terry Waldren has said the secondary supply law ‘would face legal issues’. We wonder what he means. Secondary supply laws have overwhelming support from parents. Samantha Menezes gathered 6,000 signatories for her petition for the introduction of the law in WA. And an independent survey commissioned by the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth found that 88% of Western Australians support the law¹.

Parents have often been behind the introduction of secondary supply laws in states where they currently exist. In Victoria, Bruce Clark successfully lobbied the Government to make it illegal to supply alcohol to children without their parent’s consent. As schoolies approaches, parents in South Australia (SA) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which don’t currently have the secondary supply law along with WA, have the ideal opportunity to also take action.

But secondary supply laws aren’t the only way parents can protect their children from alcohol-related harm. Talking with children about alcohol and other drugs, especially in the lead up to events like schoolies, can help prepare them to make good decisions. Here’s some topics that could be covered:

  • Views on alcohol and other drugs – discuss the effects of different drugs and what you both think about them.
  • Excuses for not drinking or taking drugs – brainstorm excuses to avoid embarrassment.
  • Responsible drinking – tips include eating before and during drinking (avoiding salty food), alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, staying busy to avoid having too much, being SunSmart, not mixing swimming, driving and other risky activities with alcohol.
  • A plan for the week – researching what activities are available so alcohol isn’t the main focus of the celebrations.
  • Sticking with friends – looking after each other, agreeing on a plan to get home and a meeting place if someone gets lost, calling 000 if someone passes out or is in trouble, helping each other make good decisions, avoiding fights.
  • Laws – fake IDs, drink spiking, drink driving, pressuring someone into sex and, in some states, supplying someone who’s under 18 with alcohol are all illegal and carry penalties.
  • Good contacts – researching the services that schoolies events offer like Red Frogs.

Having this conversation can sometimes be difficult, but helps parents by providing information on how to have the talk, different drugs and their effects, secondary supply/teen drinking laws and safe partying.

GrogWatch knows from conversations with parent groups that many are concerned about schoolies week and want to take action. Research shows that parents can have a significant effect on whether their children have a responsible attitude towards alcohol by talking to them about it and setting a good example². For parents in WA, SA and the ACT this is especially important given their governments aren’t taking action to protect children through secondary supply laws.

Let GrogWatch know if you want to campaign for secondary supply laws in WA, SA or the ACT.

1.    Submission to Liquor Control Act review: McCusker Centre
2.    Parenting guidelines for adolescent alcohol use