Binge-drinking dangers

Jessica CuthbertAlbany Advertiser

Parents of Albany school leavers have been urged to speak to their children about the dangers of excessive alcohol as leavers kicks off this week.

Hundreds of Year 12 students will head off on trips intrastate and overseas to mark the end of their school years, often with alcohol involved.

St John Ambulance Great Southern regional manager Cassandra Hughes said binge drinking was harmful to young people.

“We know from data collected in 2016 that more young people needed emergency assistance for alcohol intoxication than in previous years and, last year in WA, our paramedics had 247 call-outs for urgent medical assistance involving girls aged 13 to 18 and 212 call-outs for males the same age,” she said.

“Alcohol use can cause a great deal of harm for those in the younger age category and can lead to lasting brain changes, such as affecting mood and the ability to learn. This type of behaviour is avoidable and we encourage parents to inform themselves and to talk to their children about alcohol before the celebrations begin.”

Year 12 Albany Senior High School graduate student Joe Ward, 17, said he would be celebrating his week of leavers and his 18th birthday in Bali.

“Dunsborough is really expensive and the heavy police presence has kind of turned it into a bit of a lame spot for leavers; there aren’t many places in WA where leavers can go and just enjoy themselves without being subject to the ‘naughty kids’ stigma,” he said.

“On the other hand, Bali is just so cheap and there’s just so much to do, we can see the temples, monkeys, eat heaps of Indonesian food and get surf lessons while we are over there. I really just want to unwind. Year 12 is pretty colossal — especially if you do ATAR — and it’s the first opportunity where I can go and do adult stuff on my own; days at the beach, tours of the island, a little bit of shopping and lots of massages.”

Joe said his main message for leavers was to look after their friends while consuming alcohol.

“Most people that drink at leavers have been going out to parties and drinking for a year or two and know their limits,” he said.

“We’ve all got mates going who haven’t been out drinking before and as long as they’re looked after you should be able to have fun without making a mess.”

Joe said his parents were confident he would make the right decisions during leavers’ week.

“As far as they’re concerned, alcohol use can be a positive part of growing up, and the best they can do is make sure I’m equipped to handle myself and look after my friends; of course they’re a little worried because I’ll be in a foreign country and some of the regulations around the production of alcohol aren’t as strict and controlled as they are here, but I think if you stay off the spirits and keep an eye on your drinks, you’ll be fine.”

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