The 4 pledges
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Here are some info and tips to help you do what you pledged to do, so you can minimise the harm that alcohol can do to your teenager.
I pledge to role model responsible drinking behaviours for my children and their friends.
As your child grows up, it’s easy to think that they listen more to their friends and celebrities than you. However, the reality is that you started to influence your child from day one and you remain one of your child’s biggest influencers as they develop into an adult.
You don’t need to tell your child about your past experiences with alcohol and drugs. It’s important to be their parent, not their friend. However, if you drink responsibly as a parent your child is more likely to do the same later in life. Modelling responsible drinking means:
- Limiting your drinking and not getting drunk, especially in front of your children
- Showing you don’t always need a drink to have fun, wind down or do things like watch sport
- Dealing with stress in healthy ways, for example through rest, exercise, and listening to music
- Keeping track of how many standard drinks you’ve had, even when you aren’t driving
- Demonstrating that you can refuse a drink from a friend if you don’t feel like it or you’ve had enough
- Never drinking and driving
(Information taken from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website).
For information on providing an alcohol and drug free teen party visit the Alcohol and Drug Foundation Safe Partying web page.
I pledge to not buy alcohol or drugs for people under 18 years of age.
- Secondary supply is when you provide alcohol to a person aged under 18 years.
- It is now against the law to serve alcohol in a private home to anyone under 18, unless their parents have given permission.
- It remains illegal for bar staff or bottle shops to serve or sell alcohol to under 18’s.
Why is secondary supply important?
- Drinking is not safe for people under 18 years old. There have been a number of cases in Australia where a person has suffered injuries or died as a result of drinking too much alcohol after being supplied by an adult.
- The brain is still developing up until your mid-20s. Drinking alcohol may damage a young brain and lead to health complications later in life.
- The earlier a young person is introduced to alcohol, the more likely they are to develop problems with it later in life. Young people should therefore delay their first drink for as long as possible.
- Secondary supply is the most common way that young people obtain alcohol. Almost 40% of underage drinkers get alcohol from their parents. The majority of minors obtain alcohol from a person who is not their parent, guardian or carer.
The current laws in Australia
Across Australia, a person who is under the age of 18 is not breaking the law if they drink alcohol on private property. Though, in most states and territories, the person who supplied them with the alcohol could be breaking the law – unless they are the child’s parent or guardian and act in a responsible manner. However, the young person’s parent or guardian can provide consent for the young person to consume alcohol at the private residence.
The following legal information is correct at the time of publication. For more information about the supply of alcohol to people aged under 18 years, contact the Legal Aid Commission in your state or territory.
- In Victoria Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (Vic), it is illegal to supply alcohol to people aged under 18 years in a private home unless parental consent has been given. Offenders are liable for a fine of more than $7,000.
It’s important that parents and other adults familiarise themselves with their legal obligations by consulting their state/territory police or liquor licensing authority.
If you do decide to serve alcohol, perhaps at an 18th birthday party, remember that secondary supply laws exist. This means that it’s illegal for you to serve underage guests alcohol without their parent or legal guardian’s permission, even if the party is in your home. It’s also illegal for guests to pass underage guests alcohol without this permission.
(Information taken from the Secondary Supply web page on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website).
I pledge to have open discussions with my/our child about the risks associated with underage drinking and illicit drug use.
Talking about alcohol and other drugs with your child is important as it gives them the knowledge they need to make good decision. Research shows that young people view their parents as credible sources of information, and that parental beliefs and behaviour affect those of their child. Starting this conversation means you can create an understanding that when it comes to alcohol and other drugs, no question is too silly and no topic is off limits.
It’s easiest to think of it as an ongoing conversation instead of a one-off talk. Ideally you would start to have these conversations while your child is still in primary school – as early as 8 years – but it’s never too late. Studies show that risky drinking is most prevalent in your 20s, so preparing your child for this phase of their life is as important as the teen years.
It’s important to be a parent, not your child’s friend. You don’t need to tell your child about your past experiences with alcohol and drugs. However, if you drink responsibly as a parent your child is more likely to do the same later in life.
Get the facts - There are a lot of myths about alcohol and other drugs. Use evidence-based sources like the drug facts section of the ADF website to inform yourself, and give your child the most accurate information.
Be clear in your beliefs - Based on the evidence, clarify your own personal view of alcohol and other drugs. For example, it’s up to you whether your child drinks or not, but when making your decision consider the Australian alcohol guidelines which state that the safest option for children and people under 18 is not to drink.
Look for opportunities to start the conversation - Keep the conversation relaxed. Use relevant topics on the TV and radio, or an upcoming party, as an opportunity to talk about alcohol and drugs. Try to have the conversation in a quiet and comfortable environment e.g. the family dinner table.
Ask questions - Find out your child’s views about alcohol and other drugs. Talk about what they would do in different situations.
Make sure they understand the harms - Using the ADF drug facts webpage, make sure your child has the right information about alcohol and drugs and correct any myths. It’s about a deeper discussion than ‘just say no’. Talk about the benefits as well as the harms of different drugs, and reasons why someone might use them. Don’t exaggerate the harms as it will make you sound less credible.
Set rules and consequences - Explain your views on alcohol and other drugs and use the facts to back them up. Let your child know your rules, and the consequences for breaking them. Help them develop ways of getting out of situations where their friends are using alcohol or drugs and they don’t want to be embarrassed by not taking part.
(Information taken from the Talking about alcohol and other drugs web page on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website).
I pledge to actively supervise parties at our home where there is a risk of under-age alcohol and drug use.
It’s possible to host a fun and memorable party for your child that their friends and their parents will be comfortable with.
Use the safe party planner
The planner is helpful when you’re deciding with your child how their party will be organised and run on the night, and makes sure everyone is on the same page. This includes how alcohol, smoking, and other drugs are going to be managed.
Download a copy of the Safe Party Planner at https://adf.org.au/alcohol-drug-use/teenagers/safe-partying/hosting-a-teenage-party/
Plan the details - Discussing the following can help make sure everyone’s got the same expectations about the party and has a good time.
- Setting a budget will help decide the number of guests, the location, the type of entertainment, and catering.
- While you’re thinking about the location, try to consider:
- : how will you prevent gatecrashers, and if the party’s at home are some locations going to be off limits, and how will you keep your pets safe?
- : if the party’s at home, find out about your liability insurance cover
- : who’s going to clean up the mess?
- : who needs to be told about the party beforehand?
- Guest list: Talk about how many people you feel comfortable with, the ages of guests, and whether known ‘trouble-makers’ will be invited.
- Start and finish time: Agree on the start and finish time, including specifics of when the music will be turned off and drinks stopped. A pre-determined time will make it easier to pull the plug.
Register the party with your local police - It’s a good idea because police will be able to provide safe partying tips, let you know of noise regulations, and can help you out if the party gets out of control.
Invitations - Written invitations have many advantages:
- They’re a point of contact with other parents, and if you ask them to RSVP on their child’s behalf you can have a chat and exchange contact details.
- Invitations make it clear that the party is invite only – you could go a step further and request that invites be shown at the door.
- It lets guests know what’s expected, like dress code, if alcohol will be allowed/provided, and the finishing time.
- You have less control over the guest list if you invite via text, email or through social networking like Facebook. If you do use Facebook, make sure the event page is private and invite only.
- They can convey a lot about the theme/spirit of the party through how they’re designed. They’re also a bit of a novelty now as they aren’t often used.
Make the party fun - Having a theme for the party can help take the focus off alcohol. You can organise decorations, food, drinks and activities that tie in with the theme. It will help to make it memorable, and allow your child scope for creativity. Keeping guests entertained is important, because it means there is more to do than drink. Spend some time with your child planning activities like karaoke, music, pool, table soccer etc.
Alcohol and drugs - There are risks involved if you choose to provide alcohol or allow young people to drink at the party. As the legal host, you are responsible for providing a safe environment and could potentially be held liable if anything goes wrong – even after the party, if the guests leave drunk.
Making a decision - When deciding whether to serve alcohol, consider the Australian alcohol guidelines which recommend people under the age of 18 should avoid alcohol.
If you do decide to serve alcohol, perhaps at an 18th birthday party, remember that most states and territories in Australia have secondary supply laws. This means that it’s illegal for you to serve underage guests alcohol without their parent or legal guardian’s permission, even if the party is in your home. It’s also illegal for guests to pass underage guests alcohol without this permission. Hefty fines apply for both adults and minors.
Serving alcohol - If you do provide alcohol at the party it’s a good idea to:
- Tell parents ahead of time
- Set up an agreement between yourself and your child about alcohol and adult supervision
- Make sure no one under 18 years is served or given alcohol unless you have their parent’s explicit approval
- Only make alcohol available from one area, and have a responsible adult who is not drinking as the bartender
- Only serve low-alcohol drinks, make sure great non-alcoholic options are on hand
- Avoid drinks like punch that could be easily spiked
- Ensure there’s lots of food and that people can see it or that it’s being offered around, but try not to serve very salty snacks as they make people thirsty and could cause people to drink more
- Plan for guests to sleep over if no one can take them home
Confiscating alcohol and drugs - Even if you decide not to serve alcohol, you might have to deal with guests trying to bring alcohol and drugs into the party. Talk to your child about whether you’ll confiscate alcohol and drugs, including what you’ll do with these substances.
If you chose to return what’s been confiscated after the party is over, you could still be held liable for any accidents that happen after the guests have left. You can consider the option of instead returning the substance to the guest’s parent.
Drunk guests - While you’re setting the rules for the party, talk about what you’ll do if a guest is drunk. Drunk guests can ruin the party for others and create dangerous situations. As the host, you have the right to send the guest home – but you should organise transport to make sure they get home safely.
Make sure guests know the rules - Once all of these rules have been discussed with your child, you need to make guests aware of them. You could do this through a written invitation that asks the parent to RSVP on behalf of their child.
Gatecrashers and security - Gatecrashers can be a problem at teenage parties, but you can take a few steps to avoid them getting in:
- If you’re concerned about security, restrict the guest list
- If you’re having a big party, consider hiring security
- Only have one entrance to the party, secure side or back gates if necessary
- Ask other adults to help you supervise the party and organise for one or more to be on the door
- Offer around food and drinks throughout the party so you can subtly keep an eye on things
- Make sure that vehicle access is not blocked for emergencies
- Phone police if unmanageable gatecrashers arrive
Transport - Being a responsible host involves making sure your guests get home safely – and sometimes it’s hard for young people to make good decisions, including which drivers to travel with. It’s a good idea for you to:
- Ask your guests how they’re getting home, and who is driving
- Encourage parents of younger children to pick them up at the end of the party
- Encourage guests to come by taxi or with a designated driver (watch how much designated drivers drink during the party)
- Make sure no one has to walk home by themselves
Information taken from the Hosting a teen party web page on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website.