Ivanhoe Girls seek change in Victorian drinking culture

Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School

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

2 thoughts on “Ivanhoe Girls seek change in Victorian drinking culture

  1. Hello
    It is clear to everyone that there are alcohol related issues, however your group of enthusiastic students are coming at the issue from the wrong side. Your main proposition to increase the drinking age fails to target the core problem. We need to address this issue at an early age.

    The danger of alcohol violence has a founding within our social education. We need to be educated in the social impacts and devastation that alcohol has the potential to leave in our wake, if we do not act responsible. The ideal space for the experientially important life lesson is within our schools as part of our curriculum. My school education has only briefly skimmed the surface of drug education. We need to improve.

    If we take a moment to look at sex education in school, we see that America is at the trailing end, while The Netherlands is leading the charge. The Netherlands education system has made sex education an major part of the school curriculum. In america the prude nature of society has locked the door on open discussion and learning. The impact of these contrasting education systems is drastic. The Netherlands had a teen birth rate of 5.3 per 1,000 compared to 39.1 per 1,000 in the United States. And its not just the teen birth rate, the percentage of citizens living with STI’s is drastically different in favour of The Netherlands. And why is this so? It is the juxtaposition within the education systems. This idea must be applied to our issues. We cannot close our minds to other relative data. It is clear that education has profound impacts, so we must act upon our knowledge, we must fight the fundamental issues. Revolution does not happen by building up our past. We must strip the issue to its core and then rebuild, this is how we revolutionise and change.

    Your idea to raise the drinking age is, and I’m sorry to say, clearly flawed. You have taken the right steps to identifying the issue, but you took the wrong path somewhere on your journey. Increasing the drinking age will change little aside from raising the age of drug related violence and crime. Aside from a little social development and learning that will change little, delaying the drinking age by two years has no profound impact on the issue. So let us together target the cause.

    When i was younger and attained little information on the subject of drugs, i was offered to smoke marijuana, and i being naive said that i would try it. Thankfully it never came to fruition. But i would have done it, no one had ever explained to me what impacts it could have on me, i was poorly educated in the matter. And for me, being within a family full of mental illness, the impacts could have been devastating. Now that i fully understand the impacts it could have on me, i made the decision to never experiment with illicit drugs. Education has saved me from an ill fate.

    You may now say that if we improve education and raise the drinking age our results will be even better, however i believe that 18 is a suitable age to begin responsible drinking. We are old enough to have had proper education on the matter, and we deserve the right to make our own decision as an adult. And drinking is a social enjoyable activity. And yes, studies have shown the neurological impacts that heavy drinking can have on adolescence. However i would like to ask all of you if you carry a mobile phone with you. The radiation of your phones are potentially harming you and your surrounding people. But you still carry it around with you. Cars have the potential to kill, and yet most of us are driving every week as a minimum. We drive cars fully aware of the danger, and thats the difference. We no the risks with driving, and therefore we take caution, it is our education that is fundamentally saving us.

    You have the opportunity to do good and improve the issue, but your reaching in the wrong direction. By increasing the drinking age you are sure to face protest from the youth, an uphill battle that you will lose. So why not turn to the young and assist in their education. Make the right decision with your opportunity, tackle the problem where it counts and make a difference.

    I know that the statistics that i provided our out of date, but i had little time to research for my response. Here is the link to my statistics source. And
    http://www.alternet.org/story/154970/5_countries_that_do_it_better%3A_how_sexual_prudery_makes_america_a_less_healthy_and_happy_place

    1. One Last Thought

      You discussed that this is a issue for yourselves, as you will all soon be able legally allowed to drink. However, your views on the matter was one of dislike. It seems as though you don’t want to be allowed to drink alcohol. Is it perhaps that your girls are uncomfortable with alcohol consumption, and feel that you will be pressured into trying it. Currently you all have a valid excuse, but soon you’ll be 18, what will you say then to your friends when they offer you a drink. Why was it you girls that are the ones taking the stand. Perhaps school education must not only further explore drugs, but also peer pressure.

      This is all speculative, but i am wondering why it you girls are the ones fight the cause and not others. I hope i have not offended anyone as that was not my intent. If i have i apologise.

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