Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Underage drinking examined

A team of Benalla and Mansfield youths has completed a six-month project involving underage and binge drinking.

February 25, 2013 4:58am

Benalla and Mansfield youth embarked on a study questioning other youth on their views of underage alcohol and drug use last year, with the findings just released in 2013.

Benalla and Mansfield Alcohol Project (BMAP: Don’t get Risky with the Whisky) was carried out in partnership with Benalla Health, Benalla Rural City, Mansfield Shire, Ovens and King Community Health Service, Women’s Health, Goulburn North East and Victoria Police.

The youths consulted with other young people in the communities to canvass what they saw as the main issues regarding underage drinking, binge drinking and the associated risks.

The challenge was then to come up with a project that would best address the main issues identified in their own towns.

Community Health director Neil Stott said it was a credit to the youth that a total of 329 young people aged from 13 to 17 were surveyed — 141 from Benalla and 188 from Mansfield.Underage drinking

A higher proportion of Benalla respondents (20.6 per cent) felt that underage drinking was a big problem in their area, compared with 12.2 per cent of Mansfield respondents. The majority of young people in both municipalities (61.7 per cent) felt that underage drinking was mostly a problem with the 16- to 17-year-old age group.

Stealing was scored by 26.1 per cent of respondents in Mansfield, and a staggering 42.6 per cent in Benalla. Nearly 28 per cent of young people surveyed indicated that parents provided alcohol for underage drinking.

The highest perceived risk of underage drinking was ‘‘injury/road accident’’ (62 per cent), followed by ‘‘altered brain development’’ (49.8 per cent) and ‘‘sexual assault’’ (44.7 per cent) or ‘‘assault’’ (38.3 per cent). Next ranked was ‘‘addiction’’, viewed more strongly as a risk among Benalla respondents (39.7 per cent compared to 29.2 per cent for Mansfield).

Friends were seen as a more common way to source alcohol for Mansfield youth (81.4 per cent) than in Benalla (67.4 per cent). While brothers and sisters were viewed fairly consistently across both areas (at around 48 per cent), parents in Mansfield were named by 36.2 per cent of respondents, compared to 17 per cent in Benalla. Parties were seen as a source for 78.7 per cent of young people in Benalla, compared to a lower rate of 58 per cent in Mansfield. Using fake IDs was considered common by 18.4 per cent of young people in Benalla, and 26.6 per cent in Mansfield.Binge drinking

Binge drinking was seen as a problem for mostly the 18- to 21-year-old age group by 43 per cent overall. Binge drinking was associated with sporting clubs by those surveyed across both municipalities.

‘‘Unhappiness and depression’’ had a much higher response rate in Mansfield (17 per cent compared to 1.4 per cent in Benalla, whereas 38.3 per cent of Benalla respondents listed ‘‘to relax and loosen up’’ as a reason for binge drinking, compared to only 16.5 per cent in Mansfield.The facts

One young Australian aged between 14 and 17 years old dies every week as a direct result of alcohol, which kills 6.5 times more young people than all illegal drugs combined.

The Hume region has a higher proportion of people aged less than 20 years receiving treatment for drug and alcohol usage across all of Victoria.

In the Hume region across the ages between 15 and 24 there were: 326 alcohol-related hospital admissions, 171 alcohol-related assaults, 111 alcohol-related family incidents and 13 alcohol-related deaths between 2001 and 2004.

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