The City of Mandurah have undertaken a sting operation on local bottle shops in a bid to reduce underage drinking.
As part of the Smart Generation Program – which is coordinated by Deakin University – the city sent in 18-year-olds, who they believed looked underage, to local alcohol stores see if they were asked for a valid ID.
“The last time we ran the tests two out of 20 were not doing the right thing – in the most recent tests there were three,” City of Mandurah chief exectutive Mark Newman said.
“We want licensees, managers and staff to hear the message clearly: when you sell alcohol to teenagers, you are failing in your job.
“Research shows that young people are more likely to develop social, cognitive and emotional issues if they use alcohol before they turn 18.
“In communities where it is hard for adolescents to obtain alcohol, there is less teenage alcohol use and fewer alcohol-related injuries, assaults and deaths. These communities also have higher rates of school completion.”
The Smart Generation Program is being implemented in a number of communities across Australia, and includes a school-based education program aimed at students and parents.
Deakin University Health Psychology chair John Toumbourou said bottle shops was one of two major sources of alcohol for young people. The other source is their parents.
“Monitoring sales through bottle shops has been shown to be an effective way of reducing the amount of alcohol access and subsequently consume,” he said.
“Communities can improve the long and short term outcomes of the children and adolescents in their community by implementing this relatively cheap and highly efficient strategy.
“A recent paper published in Preventive Medicine which evaluated the impact of this program on communities found there was a 10 per cent reduction in alcohol use amongst school-age youth and significantly more planned to remain non-drinkers until they were 18 years old.”
The program is part of the City of Mandurah’s commitment to making the community a safer place to live and work.
Crime statistics show that over the last ten years the numbers of crimes in almost all categories, have dropped, despite an increase in population.
Non-domestic assaults have almost halved, but the city recognises that safety is still a key issue for our community.
“One of the key initiatives of our long term strategy to improve community safety is social development,” Mr Newman said.
“This strategy seeks to address particular social and economic conditions that might lead an individual to crime.
“We want to tackle these difficult issues at an early stage, which is why the work we are doing in reducing teenage alcohol consumption is important.”