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 This is a Bolt out of the blue! Honourable Fred Nile, is most definitely keeping the "conversation" going! →


There is a growing constituency for the legal age to be raised from 18 to 21

Oct 12, 2013  by 21bethere

My experience is that there is a growing constituency for the legal age to be raised from 18 to 21 for the reasons below.
The following figures show that we are currently having success with the message that early secondary school students should not be using alcohol.

The above figures are from Victoria White and Emily Bariola (2012) Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-thecounter and illicit substances in 2011. Report prepared for: Drug Strategy Branch Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing by the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, The Cancer Council Victoria.

The figures show that there has been a considerable reduction in current drinking (drinking in the past 7 days) that began from 2005.

Why are the kids giving up the grog?

Researchers at the Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute set a goal to reduce adolescent alcohol use in 2002.

The report below (through the ADF) describes the reasoning for encouraging adolescents to abstain from alcohol use. Toumbourou, J.W., Rowland, B., Jefferies, A. (2005) Could an alcohol-abstinence focus through childhood and adolescence reduce alcohol-related harm? Drug Info Clearinghouse, Number 13, pp. 1-21. Melbourne: Australian Drug Foundation.

Starting in 2003 I personally completed 250 media interviews to disseminate the message that secondary school age students should not be using alcohol. This was the message on the ABC Catalyst and “Whatever the Science of Teens” programs. A key messages has been that parents should set rules not to provide or allow adolescent alcohol use. From 2006 myself and Michael Carr-Greg supported the Trinity Grammar School Alcohol and Drug Parent Resource Book that has been disseminated to most secondary school parents in Victoria ( In 2009 the NHMRC guidelines were altered to make clear for the first time in Australia that adolescents should not use alcohol prior to age 18. In 2011 the ADF and other advocates successfully lobbied for secondary supply legislation to be introduced in Victoria. All these changes (and I am sure other factors also) are having the effect of reducing secondary school age alcohol use.

The theory we outlined in the Toumbourou, Rowland and Jefferies (2005) paper was that reducing early age alcohol use would lead over time to reductions in binge drinking as cohort got older. This appears to be the case in the trends we are seeing in White and Bariola (2012) report. If we are correct then the trend to lower use of alcohol in early secondary school should now lead to a trend for lower alcohol use as these low-drinking cohorts enter late secondary school.

Our current concern is that these low drinking cohorts are going to now face pressure to start drinking as they approach the legal drinking age. It is difficult to argue to 16 and 17 year olds that it would be best if they did not use alcohol, if the drinking age is 18. To further protect their healthy brain development we have been recently increasing our advocacy for the legal age to be raised from 18 to 21. The early secondary school parents and students we are working with are a new constituency that are asking us – “if at 18 the brain is not fully developed and is vulnerable to damage through binge drinking then why isn’t the drinking age raised to 21?”. Over the next decade the parents and youth in these low drinking cohorts will become an increasingly important voice for raising the drinking age.


 This is a Bolt out of the blue! Honourable Fred Nile, is most definitely keeping the "conversation" going! →