How old were you when you first had a few drinks?
There’s a good chance that by the time you turned 16 you would probably have had a few beers and/or plastic pillows of cask wine. Chances are you got it from either someone like a sibling who was of drinking age or your parents.
Well, it was reported yesterday that the NSW government is stepping up a push to change teenage drinking culture. Targeting adults.
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I’m *hick* having trooble righting this *hick* column because I’ve had too much to drunk. I can’t talk ploply, I’m photocopying my privates and bumping into lampposts like a pin-ball. But I’m Australian, so that’s funny, right?
Well, as funny as the behaviour of the three Welsh tourists who woke up in their Gold Coast hotel last week to find Dirk the penguin in their room. Though the men’s wrists will be slapped, our culture is incredibly accepting of alcohol-fuelled larrikins. But if you drink to the point where you can’t remember your actions, surely your hobby is nothing less than amnesia.
Dirk remembers and if Dirk could speak he too might have phoned in to the radio station I recently heard inviting callers to share the most unusual place they had woken up after a big night out. In prison, on the roof of a car and in the middle of a roundabout were some of the improvised beds the everyday Aussies had occupied. Park benches are only for full-time drunks it seems.
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FARE is a small organisation with a dream. There is no denying that FARE has taken on a cause of epic proportions – a shape-shifting entity that is hard to define because its boundaries are constantly changing. Alcohol is a central part of Australian culture, and it crosses demographic, geographic and social divides in a way other cultural activities don’t.
Drinking alcohol is for the young and old, the high achievers and under achievers, the wealthy and the destitute. For most Australians, drinking alcohol is a choice that doesn’t devalue their lives. It is more likely to add entertainment, experiential or leisure value.
How do we view Australia’s drinking culture? Is it a glass half empty, or a glass half full?
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Mineral water, sparkling wine, sauvignon banc, chardonnay or pinot noir. That was the dilemma I faced last Wednesday night as the guest of FARE, an independent and charitable foundation set up to ten years ago to help prevent the harmful use of alcohol in Australia.
Don’t be afraid to have a drink tonight, urged our generous host. But while I sipped self-consciously on my mineral water I did start to wonder where this night would end up.
After all, as their slogan proudly says, FARE are committed to “changing the way we drink”.
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