Inner-city youth ‘more liberal’ with alcohol

Young people in Melbourne’s gentrified inner suburbs are more likely to have ‘liberal attitudes to alcohol’ than their counterparts in outer growth areas, according to a new study.

The paper, Drinking Patterns and Attitudes for Young People, by Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre researcher Sarah MacLean, explores how attitudes to alcohol consumption vary across Melbourne.

The research, funded by VicHealth and the Australian Research Council, used data from a Victorian Youth Alcohol and Drug Survey, published in May, 2010.

Dr MacLean compared responses from people aged 16 to 24 living in growth municipalities Whittlesea, Wyndham, Casey, Cardinia, Melton and Mitchell with those in the inner cities of Port Phillip, Stonnington, Yarra and Melbourne.

In response to whether “having a drink is one of the pleasures of life”, 75 per cent of respondents in inner-Melbourne said they agreed, compared with 66 per cent of those in growth areas.

More than 30 per cent of growth area respondents agreed with the statement “there is nothing good to be said about drinking”, compared to 20 per cent of their inner-city counterparts.

Inner-Melbourne respondents under 18 were almost four times more likely than those in growth areas to have bought alcohol in a licensed premises.

The research also found 94 per cent of inner-Melbourne 16- to 17-year-olds had drunk alcohol in the past 12 months, compared to 75 per cent in growth areas.

In terms of drinking habits and accessibility, drinking at licensed venues was more common with inner-city young people, while private parties were more frequently attended by those in growth areas.

Dr MacLean said the study indicated that the sale of alcohol to minors needed to be more heavily enforced in inner-Melbourne, including ensuring parties were “safe and well-managed”.

She said an “all-community approach” involving all levels of government, health professionals, licensed premises owners and those in the alcohol industry was needed to tackle excessive and binge drinking.

VicHealth chief executive Jerril Rechter said drinking habits were formed at home, “before graduating to pubs, clubs and bars”.


She said parents played an important role in forming the drinking habits of their children, and young people needed to be taught that getting drunk was not “part and parcel” of socialising.