Drink Tank

Young people take the lead on solutions to alcohol problems

Australia has a drinking culture. A culture we are proud of, to a large extent. But culture is a powerful, complex, intricate thing. Culture is the result of generations of behaviours, patterns, actions, beliefs and norms, which work together to define what is normal and acceptable.

We learn culture from our parents, from our families, from the media and from the people around us. Australia’s drinking culture is no exception.

Much of the media focuses on young people being the sole contributor to the issues caused by binge drinking in the community. But young people didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start drinking excessively.

They learn their drinking patterns and attitudes towards alcohol the same as they learn what behaviour is acceptable in public, how to speak to people around them, their beliefs about family and friends.

We have been raised in a culture that uses alcohol at sporting events, celebrations, commiserations, to catch up with old friends and to meet new ones. It’s normal, and even expected, to have a big one at the footy, the 5 o’clock swill after work on a Friday, and endless beers at the family barbeque.

Our drinking culture is so much greater than young people, and a solution to the problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption requires a whole-of-community response.

Young people want to fight back against this negative image, and they want to be part of the solution.

It’s time to hear what they have to say on the topic, how they view the issue, and what they think can and should be done to solve it – for all of us.

That is why Ychange? was formed. Developed by young people, for young people, it provides a platform to start conversations around how binge drinking affects young people, and what we can do about it.

Through workshops, social media discussions, and events, young people are challenging themselves and their friends to talk about the issues, and more importantly, talk about solutions.

Ychange?, in conjunction with the Australian Youth Forum, will be holding a Youth Forum on Alcohol and Binge Drinking this Friday and Saturday in Darwin and Palmerston.

The event will provide an opportunity for young people from across the Top End to discuss, learn, share and develop their own ideas about the issues, and develop resources for their peers to be shared well beyond the forum.

You are invited to participate in the forum too, by joining in the discussions on Facebook and Twitter, contributing to our blog, and starting the conversation with your own friends, no matter what their age.

It’s time we, as Australians, had a conversation about alcohol in our community. And a conversation about how we can all make healthier choices.

Ychange? raises awareness of alcohol-related harms and risks to the personal well-being of young people aged 12-25, as well as providing a platform for young people to share their ideas and experiences.

It focuses on positive messages, peer-education and community discussion to promote informed choices about drinking. You can find more information at ychangent.com, Facebook.com/ychangeNT, Twitter.com/ychangeNT.

Ychange? is supported by the Australian Government and delivered by Anglicare NT.

Anna Ashenden

Anna’s background is in psychology and she has spent more than four years living and working in communities throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. She recently returned to Australia as a Project Manager for a youth-led health promotion initiative “Ychange?” in Darwin while studying her Master of International and Community Development. She is passionately barefoot, addicted to ice cream, and a firm believer in following your dreams.


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