Drink Tank

Alcohol, young people, parents & the law

I’m a mother, a health student, a cat nut, and an advocate.

When someone asks me why I choose to spend my spare time advocating to change secondary supply laws in WA, my response is simple: If I can prevent one young person from being entrapped in the binge drinking culture of Australia, I have succeeded.

If I can help educate parents about the dangers associated with underage drinking, and help them understand it is simply not a “rite of passage” I am doing the right thing.

Secondary supply legislation is one opportunity we have to educate our parents and our young people about choices, about self-esteem, and about being able to say no.

These laws can help parents manage parties and gatherings of young people at home without the fear of alcohol intoxication being the dominant force.

No one has the right to give our underage children alcohol without parental permission. No one has the right to encourage dangerous drinking patterns in our young people. Dangerous drinking patterns cause so much grief.

When we’re young we’re forming our habits. Our girls will eventually grow up and perhaps have children of their own. We don’t want them to struggle with controlling entrenched alcohol habits when they are pregnant and child rearing.

Our young men need to be confident in their decisions and able to say no to alcohol if they feel like it. This week, my own 20 year old son said to me “I chose not to drink at the gathering last night mum because I wanted to have my wits about me. The gathering was full of groups of people I didn’t know and I felt uncomfortable letting my guard down.”

Unfortunately later that night one of his friends was fatally assaulted by a gate crasher almost twice his age. Our young men do need their wits about them whilst having fun.

My son was 100% correct. The fallout from this young man’s death is unimaginable, rippling, devastating and unnecessary.

At this point in time I can’t say how much alcohol played a role in the situation, but I reiterate the choice my own son made not to consume. This may well have prevented him from becoming involved in the situation, as he had left the gathering ten minutes before the incident and the passing of a young man in the prime of his life.

The secondary supply campaign is still continuing in WA. The review recommendations have been delayed for the second time until November 2013. I have been advised that the review committee have a significant number of submissions they are looking into and I have noted that the issue of secondary supply is featured in many of them.

Since I last wrote for Drink Tank things certainly have not slowed down. I received a call from Tony Abbott’s office prior to the election to say they are fully supportive of secondary supply legislation being introduced into WA, and was told they would call Minister Waldron’s office to express that support.

Recently I spoke to Dr Anthony Lynham about his campaign against alcohol-related violence. Dr Lynham is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Queensland who repairs the faces of those who are victims of alcohol fuelled violence.

After talking to Dr Lynham I decided to write to all the branches of the Australian Dental Association to ask for support in regards to the introduction of secondary supply legislation.

I have received a response from both the WA branch and the SA branch who have confirmed they have written to the Review Committee in support. I was pleased that the SA branch came on board because they are in a great position to lobby the SA Government also.

I am aware of political movement in SA on this issue and really hope it comes into the spotlight soon.

I also have written to Simon Corbell MLA Attorney General for the ACT about the WA campaign for secondary supply and the fact that ACT also does not have this legislation.

He replied saying that the purpose of the review of the ACT’s Liquor Act 2010 is to analyse the impact of the 2010 reforms on alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour, and on the health and well-being in the ACT community, and that secondary supply would be certainly assessed.

The Western Australian Council of State School Organisation (WACCSO) recently held a conference in WA where Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan was a guest speaker and spoke about secondary supply.

They did a survey at the conference where 99% supported the introduction of secondary supply and 94% of the people surveyed want WACCSO to lobby on their behalf.

I received correspondence from them last week saying they had sent a letter to Minister Waldron. I also received support from the Australian Health Promotion WA branch who recently wrote to the WA Liquor Act Review Committee.

Recently Oliver Peterson from 730 WA (ABC) interviewed me about the campaign, and ABC TV aired a comprehensive piece featuring myself and the WA Commissioner for Children and Young People Michelle Scott, Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan, Shadow Minister for Racing and Gaming Mick Murray and Professor Steve Allsop from the National Drug Research Institute. You can watch the coverage here.

Reducing the harm from excessive alcohol consumption in our youth is something I am passionate about. Parental role modelling and education is a key factor in how our children view alcohol and its role in our daily lives.

The research tells us that when young people have risky drinking behaviours, this is linked to alcohol problems later in life.

Our kids need to be able to go out and be safe from alcohol-related violence and all the other associated problems alcohol abuse brings with it. Their brains are developing and the teen years are crucial.

Alcohol is a mind-altering drug and our community needs to moderate drinking behaviour. We need to assess not only secondary supply legislation but the advertising of alcohol and availability of alcohol in society, and its intrinsic alignment with being able to have a good time.

If you’d like to contact Sam you can reach her via:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Sammenez

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IntroduceSecondarySupplyLawsInWa

This month the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education is the Official On-Screen Partner for the One Direction ‘Take Me Home’ Australian Tour: 5th, 6th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 29th & 30th October 2013.

To celebrate, FARE is asking people to tell the story of the best alcohol-free night of their lives.

 

Sam Menezes

Sam Menezes

Sam is a mum of four children and a third year Health Science- Health Promotion student at Curtin University. Her passion is advocating for the reduction of harm from alcohol to young people focusing on legislation and policy supported by community education. Sam has been an avid campaigner for the introduction of secondary supply laws in WA and would like this legislation to be introduced in SA and ACT. Her background is nursing and working in the dental industry.

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