Grants to help tackle binge drinking

Nineteen communities across Australia will share $3.6 million from the federal government to tackle binge drinking.

The first round of community grants to fight excessive drinking was part of a $53 million government initiative, Health Minister Nicola Roxon said on Monday.

The grants went to grassroots projects including programs that offered alternative activities to pubs, a safe party initiative and a post-formal mystery tour for high school students.

"We in the Rudd government do understand that binge drinking is a problem," Ms Roxon said.

Ms Roxon said 10 per cent of 12-17 year olds were binge drinking every week.

The number of young women aged 18-24 who were hospitalised because of alcohol had doubled in the last eight years, and more than 750,000 Australians were physically abused last year by people under the influence.

"Not only does it hurt our society it hurts the economy as well," Ms Roxon said, adding the social cost of alcohol misuse was estimated at $15 billion each year.

Labor has committed $14.4 million to grassroots grants, as well as $19 million for early intervention and $20 million for an advertising campaign.

Ms Roxon said the states needed to agree on rules for the responsible service of alcohol and pub and hotel lockouts.

"There are different rules that apply across the states and territories," she said.

"We believe this is a national problem and the community would be better served by there being national consistency.

"But that involves health ministers and police ministers, it involves each jurisdiction, (and) some are very wedded to theirs being the most successful one, others want to see the evidence that's coming in from the different states and territories that have been trialling their lockouts," she said.
source: The Age