Ivanhoe Girls Grammar will shatter a staunchly held stereotype about young Australians and alcohol, with their Bill proposing to raise the age people can buy alcohol.
The group of six said they want to lift the drinking age from 18 to 21, because it is an issue that will affect them in the next couple of years.
“We had come up with a few initial ideas like recycling projects, but then we thought about lifting the drinking age because it directly affects our age group – we’re turning 18 next year and that’s what you think about when you turn 18,” said 16-year-old team member, Emelia Eagling-Every.
The group had received education from their school about brain development, the negative effects of excessive drinking and coward punches.
Comparing Australian statistics regarding alcohol related violence to that of other countries, Eagling-Every said, “We could see that there is a younger drinking age here than compared to America, and there is a lot more alcohol fuelled violence [in Australia]”.
They aim to raise awareness about the effects of heavy drinking during adolescence, but acknowledge that, “of course, many young people drink responsibly”.
The Bill points to a report released in 2013 by the Australian National Council on Drugs which found one in eight deaths of people under 25 is attributable to alcohol.
“Similarly, youth mental health agnecy HeadSpace, Australia’s foremost youth mental health agency, found that there is a causal relationship between the age at which a young person first consumes alcohol and having alcohol related problems,” the Bill reads.
If the Bill succeeds, an alcohol education program for secondary school students will be implemented, including a professional development day for teachers, alcohol plain packaging, a prime-time advertising campaign and a rehabilitation program for individuals who drink under age, which will ensure “a new generation of Victorians grow up with healthy, responsible and accurate notions of alcohol”.
“Lots of older people understand the issue and are able to assess this in an objective way. This Bill is coming from younger people, so hopefully we can educate other students about why it is necessary,” Eagling-Every said.
If Youth Parliament passes the Bill during its July sitting week, it will be handed on to the relevant Victorian Cabinet Minister for consideration.
The Ivanhoe Girls Grammar team consists of Emelia Eagling-Every, Audrey Csutoros, Erin McCubbery, Andriana Georgiou, Freya Wrigley and Tasnim Tahrin.
By Rachael Ward