All aboard the 'Ocsober' no-booze bus

During the month of October, many people push their livers to breaking point as every pub, club and restaurant runs its interpretation of the Bavarian beer festival, Oktoberfest.

But one organisation is hoping to buck the trend and encourage alcohol abstinence for a good cause.

Called Ocsober, the fundraising initiative by non-profit organisation Life Education urges Australians to embrace sobriety for one month to raise money for drug and alcohol awareness among school students.

Statistics collated by the Drug Info Clearinghouse revealed one third of Australian teenagers engage in binge drinking, with those who start before the age of 15 becoming five times more likely to become alcohol-dependent than those who don't start until they are 21.

During Ocsober, a fleet of mobile Life Education centers will visit more than 120,000 school students to raise awareness of the dangers of binge-drinking.

Brisbane students at Middle Park Primary School will tomorrow release personal messages attached to balloons, as part of a sobering reminder for adults to halt alcohol abuse this month.

"When you read what the children have written, it moves you to tears," Ocsober Project Manager Michael Fawsitt said.

"How can any of us tell a 12-year-old that we can't stop drinking alcohol for one month for such an important cause?

"Ocsober is about the future health and well-being of our children and it's up to adults to set an example and give children the best opportunity to grow up safe and healthy."

The Australian Family Association has supported the fundraising gimmick, as has the Community Alcohol Action Network.

Australian Family Association spokesman John Morrissey said the use and abuse of alcohol was deeply rooted in Australian culture.

"For young people, drinking is ingrained as a rite of passage," Mr Morrissey said.

"Yet, for all of this, drinking is celebrated as if it were quintessentially Australian."

He said the responsibility fell upon adults to lead by example.

Those adults keen to support the cause, but unable to resist the occasional cold one have been accounted for since participants are allowed to buy "leave passes".

"If you have a special event during October and you need a break from your Ocsober campaign, there's an easy option so you don't break your commitment to a whole month without alcohol," the guidelines read.

"Simply buy a one day or two day Leave Pass and then complete your Ocsober month as planned."

Families, friends and colleagues are encouraged to band together and remain grog-free for 30 days, beginning in October.

Life Education CEO Jay Bucik said rather than being a "wowser" event, Ocsober was more about encouraging adults "get real" about their alcohol intake.
source: Brisbane Times