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Young people deliver powerful anti-drinking message to parents

“I need you to say no.” That’s the simple yet powerful message from young people to parents in a campaign aimed at reducing the provision of alcohol to under-18s.

A collaborative project between Meli (formerly BCYF and Bethany), Communities That Care (CTC) and Barwon Health, nine young people contributed to the campaign, which includes a thought-provoking video set to hit the big screen this week. The CTC Youth Advisory Group educational project began in 2022 and is now being rolled out throughout the Geelong region.

Based on National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines, “I Need You to Say No” also includes a series of posters, social media promotion and web-based educational resources.

“This campaign has been driven by young people urging parents and other trusted adults to step up to the challenge of saying no, which is not always easy in our society,” said Meli CEO Grant Boyd.

“Every day at Meli we see the impacts of alcohol on young people and families, which is why this campaign is so important. Parents can play a big role in influencing young people’s attitudes to drinking as well as their access to alcohol,” he said.

Barwon Health’s Mental Health, Drugs and Alcohol Services clinical director, Professor Steve Moylan, explained that adolescents and young adults are at risk of alcohol-related harm because brain development is continuing throughout this period.

“The NRMRC recommends that no alcohol is the safest choice for under 18s. Under-age drinking can lead to risky behaviour and injuries, mental ill-health and lead to harmful alcohol use later in life. We hope this campaign will encourage parents to re-think providing young people with alcohol. The video is a great conversation starter for families.”

CTC co-ordinator Louise McDonald said that reducing early age alcohol and parental supply of alcohol to young people was one of CTC’s priority areas.

“Getting information to parents is hard, so we thought that if the messages came from the young people themselves, it would be more powerful and have more of an impact.”

She said the young people involved in the project had enjoyed contributing their ideas and feeling heard. They were also excited to see their message finally hit the big screen.

One participant said he hoped the campaign would create awareness of the damage alcohol can have on the community and families. “Hopefully adults will reconsider their choices in supplying alcohol to children and teens,” he said.

Watch the video below and learn more about the NHMRC guidelines and alcohol-related harm here.

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