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Drinking culture under challenge

Thursday, 6th August, 2009

The Drink Safe Community Initiative was officially launched yesterday.

The Community Drug Action Team, which includes representatives from a range of social organisations, is driving the project which seeks to reduce youth "binge drinking" in the city. The $236,000 program will include 17 projects to be delivered by the end of 2010. It is hoped that it will create a sustainable model for a 'Drink Safe' community that can be used in other places.

Project Officer, Jonnah Ortega, said the aim was to change the culture of drinking and the acceptability of binge drinking.

"We're not saying not to drink, we're saying 'do it responsibly'," she said. The first stage of the program - MyNite - was also launched yesterday at the Youth Centre. MyNite allows young people to register parties online. As well as informing police of the event and heading off trouble, party holders receive a Safe Party Pack that includes information, free water, pizza and other items.

At the end of 2010 a two-day community event will be held to celebrate the city's newfound status as a Drink Safe Community. It will include workshops and presentations of the effects of drinking on people aged between 12 and 25, as well as their friends and family. The Community Drug Action Team is seeking to partner other organisations to offer prepaid Taxi cards and designated driver incentive programs. Josh Veenstra, who introduced yesterday's launch and is a member of the city's Young Leaders group, said a lack of social activities drove young people to drink.

He said it was a good idea to slow down and eventually stop binge drinking, as it made late night walks home an unpleasant prospect. Drink Safe Community projects will be announced as they arise.

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