University campuses are already plastered in posters but could one make you think twice before reaching for that next glass of beer?
Researchers are hailing the success of a recent campaign against binge drinking at Canberra universities as a surprising coup for public health promotion, after they recorded a "significant" drop in heavy alcohol consumption within the first year of gluing down posters.
Students at the campaign's two test sites - the Australian National University and University of Canberra - agree drinking culture has improved. But, while they back the campaign, they say it coincided with recent sexual violence reforms that have seen universities crack down on alcohol at events.
Two years ago, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) partnered with the universities to start a trial campaign through a $339,000 ACT government grant. Students were surveyed and posters, videos and social media pages designed to challenge the "misconception" that everyone at university was drinking - in reality one in four first-years didn't drink at all.
By 2019, while the frequency of drinking remained stable, consumption of more than 10 drinks at a time plummeted from 16.1 per cent in 2017 to 2.9 per cent, according to an evaluation to be released Wednesday. More than 60 per cent of students now claimed to stick to four drinks or less - compared to just 39.3 per cent in 2017.
They also reported fewer consequences associated with binge-drinking, such as missing class, passing out, vomiting or running into trouble with the law.
FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said the foundation now planned to present its findings to the broader university sector in a bid to garner a wider take-up.
"It's a bit of a coup for public health campaigning," he said. "Young people are notoriously the most resistant group, especially to prohibitionist [style] campaigns but in Canberra we really showed you could cut through."
While the youth of the world are taking less drugs, drinking less alcohol and having less sex than any generation in a hundred years, Mr Thorn said university remains a "risky time".
Horror stories of hazing and binge-drinking have long dogged campuses world-wide. In 2017, after a landmark survey revealed the scale of sexual violence at Australian universities, institutions began rolling out improved bystander training, student support and, increasingly, alcohol restrictions.
That same year Andrew Giumelli started studying at UC. Back then, he didn't drink but said he was concerned about some of what he saw around him, especially during O Week.
"A lot of it was almost competitive, and there'd been problems with old traditions and hazing a few years back, but the university has since cracked down more and that's pretty much gone," he said.
Mr Giumelli now runs UC student clubs and social events and said the FARE campaign had accelerated a shift away from excessive drinking.
At the ANU, where evaluators say campaign cut through was much stronger, Campbell Clapp of student association ANUSA agreed FARE had helped make events safer.
But he said that, with the ANU now tightening alcohol at campus functions, students had noticed an anecdotal rise in "unstructured" drinking within residential halls which in turn could mean support leaders had less access to students in need.
"This campaign has come at an interesting time...where the university has consistently tried to limit the amount of drinking on campus," Mr Clapp said.
While he said that helped reduce peer pressure, he called for more long-term structural approaches.
But an ANU spokesman said it was not aware of any concerns about drinking in student halls, where there were already clear rules in place for alcohol consumption.
He said the university had been rolling out a range risk mitigation strategies, including 'sober reps', free alcohol limits and non-alcoholic options at ANU events.
"If students are arranging unsupervised events in residences with alcohol and without the University's approval, these are against residential rules and the ANU liquor statute which has been in place since 2015," he said.
The university also flagged a new "comprehensive health promotion program" was planned for student halls during next year's O Week.
At FARE, Mr Thorn said the key success of its campaign was challenging the social norm of drinking on campus. According to the evaluation, its posters were the heroes of the trial, cutting through to close to 70 per cent of students, followed by stalls at market days and O week events.
"Our campaign hit about the same time as the [sexual violence] survey and reforms so it was a nice alignment," Mr Thorn said.
"We'd like to see this continue and be taken up elsewhere, part of the problem with public health campaigns is that they're episodic, spasmodic and there's no long-term investment by governments."