A new initiative from health promotion foundation VicHealth seeks to mobilise young Victorians fed up with the incessant marketing and manipulation from the alcohol industry.
Top Spin, a Victorian competition, is asking young people to call out the sneaky tactics the alcohol industry uses to influence their drinking habits, and promote ideas they have to create change in young people’s drinking culture.
Data from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare shows the proportion of people aged 18-29 drinking at risky levels significantly declined in the six years to 2016. VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter thinks this generation of young people were more aware of the harmful impact of alcohol and less likely to fall prey to the alcohol industry’s tactics.
“While Victorians in their 20s are still more likely than other age groups to drink in a risky way, they are drinking less than previous generations at the same age and they are more supportive of action to reduce the harm caused by alcohol,” Ms Rechter said.
“Young people are also becoming more sceptical of the alcohol industry’s spin. It’s becoming increasingly uncool to be drunk, which is great to see.”
In response to this change, Top Spin, a creative competition, aims to get young Victorians talking about, and taking action on, the role alcohol plays in their lives, including the influence of the alcohol industry.
The five-week competition seeks to highlight the tactics in alcohol advertising, the connection between sport and alcohol, the alcohol industry’s political influence, and the boozy culture young adults encounter during major life transitions, like starting uni or getting their first job.
Ms Rechter says Top Spin is about supporting young people to peel back the curtains and uncover the tactics used by the alcohol industry.
“There are a number of factors that influence the way we drink but the millions of dollars spent by the alcohol industry in advertising and lobbying certainly plays a big role,” Ms Rechter said.
“While young people today are savvier than previous generations, we know that many haven’t considered how advertising and other alcohol industry tactics might be influencing their own decisions when it comes to drinking. For example, how many of us actually stop to think about the reasons behind the saturation of alcohol advertising at our major sporting events?
“We’re hoping this initiative encourages young people to stop and think about how their relationship with alcohol is impacted by the industry and how they can continue to be the voice for change.”
Top Spin asks young people aged 18-29 to share their thoughts, experiences and reflections on alcohol culture through a creative competition. Each week a judging panel of young people, creative professionals and health experts will award one contribution a $1000 cash prize.
Entries opened 3 May and the response from young Victorians to Top Spin has been strong with thousands of visitors to the website and entries in the hundreds. Competition judges have remarked on the quality and craft shown to date by entrants.
“The response to Top Spin from young Victorians has been incredible, with entries commenting on a range of issues young people care about such as alcohol sponsorship of sport, political donations and our heavy drinking culture,” competition judge and VicHealth Manager of Alcohol Emma Saleeba says.
“It’s often assumed that young people don’t support alcohol reform – these entries show that young people are concerned about alcohol and want to see our booze culture change.”
Partners supporting the initiative include Melbourne University, Monash University, Swinburne University, YMCA Victoria, Youth Affairs Council Victoria, Australian Graphic Design Association and the Alcohol Policy Coalition.