Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Stopping alcohol fuelled violence

Binge drinking is an issue that prevails across all levels of society, but with recent research revealing it is responsible for one in eight deaths for people under 25, its effect on the youth of Australia is the most pressing concern.

Dr Jennifer Pilgrim of the Department of Forensic Medicine has editorialised on the dangers our drinking culture has for young Australians.

Following the death of Thomas Kelly, who was killed in Sydney’s Kings Cross last year, the NSW government has introduced a new offence of unlawful assault causing death. This law, plus similar laws in other states are all aimed at curbing the violence resulting from binge drinking. Policy makers have consistently debated solutions such as reducing licensed venue trading hours, greater penalties for problem drinkers, increased taxes on alcoholic beverages, improved education campaigns, or limiting advertising and marketing strategies that encourage alcohol consumption, particularly to young people.

However, Jennifer believes that the solution lies in a change in culture, rather than through increased legislature as young Australians frequently go out just to get drunk. She points to Australia’s success in changing the culture of smoking, from smoking rates as high as 50%, down to less than 16%. Jennifer not only believes it possible to change our culture, but also a moral imperative to protect future generations from the perils of binge drinking.

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