HELEN TORPY: Break the booze barrier
FROM November, new laws will protect minors from unauthorised supply of alcohol in a private premise. These changes will be a part of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 which also regulates laws in licensed premises.
The legislation speaks loud and clear: It will be against the law to supply alcohol to anyone under 18 years of age in a private home unless you have the permission of the parent or guardian.
After a long campaign with the Geelong Advertiser and a groundswell of support from organisations, health experts, youth agencies, schools, police, parents and the community, it’s finally time for Victoria to join other states such as Queensland, NSW and Tasmania and close this legal loophole.
It’s been a glaring gap in the protection of our young people.
It comes 12 years too late for Melton teen Leigh Clark who died aged 15 when another parent supplied him a massive amount of alcohol in their home where Leigh and friends had gathered.
It’s also too late to prevent the severe facial burns a young teen acquired when another parent supplied alcohol to a group of boys and left them to attend a campfire.
This legislation will help to apply the emergency brake on our teen drinking culture, provide a safety net for young people and support parents to impose boundaries in a strong culture where peer group pressure has taken a hideous prime position for too long.
With evidence mounting about the detrimental effects the early initiation of alcohol has on the mental and physical well-being of our young people, this law will also stamp the community message that alcohol is not a pre- approved and accepted menu item for vulnerable, young teens gathering to party or celebrate their milestones.
Finally, the rights are back in the laps of parents as well as the responsibility and chance to help turn around the culture. Now we have a foundation for change and the ball is in our court.
Whatever our views, however loud our cries of inconvenience, the outright winners in this will be our young people. They have the right to be protected and deserve a community that has the courage to challenge this culture so they can reach their dreams and live a safe and happy life. Although they may be too young to know what all the fuss is about, they will thank us one day. Fair dinkum they will.
_ Helen Torpy, of Keep ‘Em Safe, is a teen drinking campaigner and parent.