ACT News

Anti-binge drinking ad under fire

A new police advertising campaign that targets binge drinking has been attacked as unrealistic and ineffective by lobby groups for Canberra's nightclubs, pub, and clubs.

The ad shows drunk youths in galah costumes acting obnoxiously, throwing up and getting into fights.

The video leaves viewers with the message ''too many drinks, and you're a galah''.

It was issued just before Skyfire, and coincided with a fall in the number of teenagers taken into protective custody by police for under-age drinking at the event.

Twelve teenagers, all aged 16 or 17, were taken into protective custody, down 60 per cent from last year.

The Australian Hotels Association and ClubsACT issued a joint statement yesterday, strongly criticising ACT Policing's galah campaign.

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The lobby groups said the ad contained mixed messages and was ''unlikely to have any impact on excessive drinking''.

AHA ACT general manager Gwyn Rees said the video suggested there was no middle ground for young people drinking alcohol.

''Whilst the message is too many drinks is bad, it also conveys a message that the choice confronting young people is either have no alcohol at all or having too much turns you into a squawking parrot,'' Mr Rees said.

ClubsACT chief executive Jeff House called for a ''more realistic'' approach against binge drinking.

''Clearly the vast majority of young people are going to drink so we need to be realistic about the messages we adopt in the effort to reduce excessive drinking,'' Mr House said.

''The most effective way of reducing excessive drinking is to encourage the attitude amongst youth that there is such a thing as drinking in moderation.''

But ACT Policing defended the ad, saying it was the result of research into successful social marketing campaigns in Australia, Britain and New Zealand.

''We make no apologies for our efforts in targeting under-age and binge drinking,'' a spokeswoman said. ''The message is for young people to drink responsibly.

''Police see all too often the effects of excess drinking on young people, which fuels alcohol-related violence and crime.''

The spokeswoman said police had received positive feedback on the ad at Skyfire.

The number of under-age drinkers at the event was well down from last year, when 31 teenagers were taken into protective custody.

Police picked up a 16-year-old boy who recorded a breath analysis of 0.315 at Skyfire.

The boy was handed over to paramedics for observation, until he was collected by a parent.

All but one of the teenagers taken into protective custody for alcohol-related offences were male.

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