The City of Mandurah is committed to making our community a safer place to live and work. Crime statistics show that over the last ten years that despite a big increase in our population the numbers of crimes in almost all categories have dropped. Importantly assaults (non -domestic) have almost halved, but we recognise that safety is still a key issue for our community.
“One of the key initiatives of our long term strategy to improve community safety is social development. This strategy seeks to address particular social and economic conditions that might lead an individual to crime. We want to tackle these difficult issues at an early stage, which is why the work we are doing in reducing teenage alcohol consumption is important,” said Mandurah CEO, Mark Newman.
Mandurah recently implemented the Smart Generation Program, which is coordinated by Deakin University and aims to help young people across Australia to become a ‘smarter generation’ by reducing high rates of underage drinking. As part of the program, communities conduct research into the sale of alcohol to minors with the aim of reducing adolescents’ access to alcohol.
Simply put the City is putting our bottle shops to the test – by practically testing whether they are selling alcohol to young people without a valid ID.
“The last time we ran the tests two out of 20 were not doing the right thing – in the most recent tests there were three,” City of Mandurah CEO Mark Newman said.
“We want licensees, managers and staff to hear the message clearly: when you sell alcohol to teenagers, you are failing in your job,” said Mr Newman.
“Research shows that young people are more likely to develop social, cognitive and emotional issues if they use alcohol before they turn 18. In communities where it is hard for adolescents to obtain alcohol, there is less teenage alcohol use and fewer alcohol-related injuries, assaults and deaths. These communities also have higher rates of school completion,” Mr Newman said.
Professor John Toumbourou, Chair in Health Psychology at Deakin University said it was important not to sell alcohol to underage youth.
“Two major sources of alcohol for young people are illegal sales in bottle shops and from their parents. Monitoring sales through bottle shops has been shown to be an effective way of reducing the amount of alcohol access and subsequently consume”
“Communities can improve the long and short term outcomes of the children and adolescents in their community by implementing this relatively cheap and highly efficient strategy.
“A recent paper published in Preventive Medicine which evaluated the impact of this program on communities found there was a 10% reduction in alcohol use amongst school-age youth and significantly more planned to remain non-drinkers until they were 18 years old,” Professor Toumbourou said.
The Smart Generation Program is being implemented in a number of communities across Australia, and includes a school-based education program aimed at students and parents.
For more information or an interview on the recent research and the Smart Generation implementation in Mandurah please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on The Smart Generation, please contact Professor John Toumbourou, Chair in Health Psychology at Deakin University on 0400 502 938.