Bottle shops urged to check proof of age

Bendigo Community Health Services community co-ordinator Anne-Marie Kelly urges parents not to supply alcohol to minors.
Bendigo Community Health Services community co-ordinator Anne-Marie Kelly urges parents not to supply alcohol to minors.

A recent test of bottle shops in Bendigo found almost 40 per cent failed to ask for identification from young customers.

Bendigo Community Health Services had two 18-year-olds, who looked underage, visit 28 bottle shops in the city to buy alcohol.

Only 61 per cent asked for identification.

“Our recent research showed that while some staff in Bendigo bottles shops are complying with the law, others need to do much more,” BCHS community co-ordinator Anne-Marie Kelly said.

BCHS and the First Quarter – a group of local health, education, justice, welfare and local government organisations aiming to create a healthy, supportive community for children and youth – have joined Deakin University’s Smart Generation Program.

The program works in schools and with families to educate students and parent, but Ms Kelly said monitoring bottle shops was another component.

“As part of the program we have sent letters to all licensees and managers, either congratulating them for not selling alcohol to a young person or reminding them of the law and of best-practice in the service of alcohol,” she said.

“We want licensees and managers to be very clear in their feedback to staff: ‘When you sell alcohol to teenagers, you are failing in your job and putting their health and future at risk’.’’

A Deakin University study conducted in Bendigo last year found 39 per cent of year eight students and 67 per cent of year 10 students had consumed alcohol.

Forty-seven per cent of year 10 students had consumed alcohol in the 30 days prior, while 8 per cent of year eight students and 29 per cent of year 10 students said they had been binge drinking in previous two weeks.

An Australian government survey in 2014 found 68 per cent of adolescents aged between 12 and 17 obtained alcohol from home, friends or purchased themselves from a bottle shop.

Ms Kelly urged parents and other adults not to supply alcohol to those aged under 18.

She said parents sometimes feared their children would only drink behind their backs if they failed to provide alcohol at home, but research had found lower alcohol use in families where parents had banned drinking.