Media Statement Issued 11th November 2014
Teen Challenge Qld calls for drinking age to be raised to 21
Teen Challenge Qld has applauded the positive steps that the Federal Government and relevant bodies have taken in acknowledging the scale and gravity of the issue of alcohol abuse in our community and addressing how to reduce the risk of alcohol related harm, at the recent AMA Alcohol Summit held in Canberra. However, whilst a positive step, the Queensland based rehabilitation organisation sees the problem as being a result of deeper fundamental cultural issue that won’t and can’t be solved by treating the symptoms and re-counting the numbers.
The organisations Executive Director, Joanne Hobbs, believes the most impactful way we can see a change in this culture is to include raising the drinking age to 21 as part of this strategy, and fears that if this doesn’t happen, the cost to our nation will be great.
“What will the output of a compromised generation be? We know the effects alcohol has on young people’s developing frontal lobes – the part of the brain responsible for recognising consequences of actions, determining between good and bad choices, overriding or suppressing unacceptable responses to social cues, long-term memory and modifying emotions to fit social norms. These are our future leaders, business people, health professionals and teachers. They will build our country and our future economy. We want their output to be the best it can be. It’s our job to protect them not just for their well being but for the well being of the country. It’s not ok that they growing up in a drinking culture.”
Mrs Hobbs believes that as a society we need a bigger picture approach – going outside of treating the current symptoms of alcohol abuse, and looking to the future.
“The cycle can stop now. The next generation can break this alcohol culture, it’s not too late but it has to be us, this generation of adults, to see this happen. We have to be courageous enough to make the tough decision and to fight for the next generation. We are the ones with the power to make the rules, we are the adults and sometimes as adults we need to make decisions that aren’t popular with young people. We need the Government to really examine the cost of not acting, the cost of not increasing the drinking age to 21, and compare this to the revenue received in alcohol tax. Can our society afford the loss in productivity now and generations into the future? Can we cover the cost of growing pressure on our health systems? What about the cost of life from alcohol related deaths? How much will our country suffer economically and socially because we can’t or won’t make the tough decisions now?” she finished.
Education, access to the right services and restricting alcohol promotion are all fantastic initiatives but without a hard lined approach to the drinking age, Teen Challenge Qld fears its services will be needed more, and more.
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