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DRINKWISE CAMPAIGN PLAYS AND MISSES

There’s nothing better than summer in Australia.

The temperature is warmer, the sun sets later and the air even feels different.

The start of summer also signifies the start of the cricket season, and for cricket fans, watching the game is synonymous with having a beer. At least that is how the official sponsor wants you to think.

Cricket Australia’s announcement that it will partner with DrinkWise to reduce excessive drinking this summer may appear to be a positive move on the surface – Cricket Australia appears to be playing their part as a concerned sports body, while DrinkWise seems to be helping by promoting responsible drinking.

DrinkWise says its campaign message, ‘You won’t miss a moment if you DrinkWise’ is designed to remind cricket fans to pace themselves and drink in moderation, so they won’t miss any of the on-field action.

But something’s missing from this campaign. What exactly does drinking in moderation look like?

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DrinkWise’s campaign offers cricket fans no information or advice on what constitutes moderate or responsible drinking. Imagine being in class and the teacher encourages you to do mathematics, but doesn’t show you how to add, subtract, multiply or divide. That’s what DrinkWise’s campaign for moderate drinking is like – you’re simply left to your own devices to work it out for yourself.

Yet we do know what is responsible or low-risk drinking. Our National Health and Medical Research Council says, to remain reasonably safe when drinking, we should not consume more than four standard drinks in a drinking session. If we drink more than that we put ourselves at risk of injury and harm due to intoxication, and put others at risk too. Why can’t DrinkWise say that?

Now here’s the thing: the DrinkWise organisation is financed by Australia’s major wine, beer and spirits producers and manufacturers.

Having alcohol-funded organisations involved in the messaging of responsible drinking isn’t the most logical arrangement. Their business is encouraging people to drink, to regard drinking as fun, and they never suggest that drinkers put a limit on how much they drink. The alcohol industry won’t tell their customers how they can use the product safely.

The industry also likes to give the impression that drinking alcohol is essential to having a good time. DrinkWise’s latest campaign is no exception.

Note that the message ‘You won’t miss a moment if you DrinkWise’, doesn’t allow for the option of not drinking. Yet most people who attend cricket matches this season won’t drink alcohol at the game. They won’t have to worry about missing the action because they drank too much, got sick, fell over, or passed out.

It doesn’t feel right just telling people to be more responsible without any advice to go along with it.

What exactly does alcohol responsibility look like for different groups such as young people or pregnant women?

Statistics, facts, plans, tips, guidelines, solutions – these are all part of an effective strategy on responsible drinking.

Written by Joel Moss