2/2/2024 New report reveals concerning number of parents allowing their children to drink alcohol

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation says new data released today in the Secondary school students’ use of alcohol and other substances report (2022-2023) shows a concerning number of parents allowing their children to drink alcohol.

The report, which is prepared by Cancer Council Victoria for the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care, found nearly two-thirds (65%) of Australian high school students in 2022/2023 reported having ever consumed alcohol, including a few sips. Overall, 44% had consumed an alcoholic drink in the past year, 22% had drank in the past month, and around one in ten (11%) said they had consumed alcohol in the past week.

Of the 11% who drank in the past week (classified as ‘current drinkers’):

  • Almost half (47%) obtained their last alcoholic drink from a parent.
  • Around one-third (35%) reported they had the intention to get drunk either most times or every time they consumed alcohol.
  • Over half (54%) had experienced at least one negative outcome in the past year after drinking alcohol, such as vomiting, doing something they regretted, or trying smoking or drugs.
  • The most common type of alcohol usually consumed were spirits or pre-mixed spirits.

The report found 81% of students who had ever consumed an alcoholic drink had engaged in risky drinking in their lifetime, and nearly one-third (30%) engaging in risky drinking in the last two weeks.

Almost one-third (31%) of high school students who had ever had an alcoholic drink, said they had parental permission for someone else to give them an alcoholic drink (secondary supply of alcohol).

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Knowledge Manager, Robert Taylor said the rates of parents allowing their children to drink alcohol was concerning, given that young people are at greater risk of alcohol-related harm.

“Parents are always learning and growing, especially when it comes to new information about keeping their kids healthy and safe. Research now shows us that exposing teenagers to alcohol, even in small amounts, can be harmful to cells inside the developing brain. The effects can be anything from finding schoolwork harder to trouble processing emotions or performing at their chosen sport.

“We also know that the earlier a young person starts drinking, and the more frequently they drink, the more likely they are to experience alcohol-related harms such as accidents or injuries or develop an alcohol dependence later in life.

Mr Taylor emphasised the important role parents can play in setting their kids up for a healthy future.

“Thankfully, there are proven ways that parents can help keep their children healthy and safe. This includes having regular, open conversations with them about the effects of alcohol, and not supplying them with it.

“Delaying drinking alcohol for as long as possible, can help to reduce the risk of harms now and into their adult life.

“Parents can also role model positive behaviours by showing their children that they can have fun and relax without alcohol. When kids know they can socialise without alcohol, they can grow up to make healthier choices about drinking.

“Knowing what to say to a young person about alcohol can be challenging, but having open and ongoing conversations is really important. There’s lots of help and support available including the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s website, which has helpful resources around the effects of alcohol, conversation guides and where to get help and support if you or a loved one needs it,” Mr Taylor concluded.

For more information, people can visit www.adf.org.au and Parenting - Talk about it - Alcohol and Drug Foundation (adf.org.au)

The Secondary school students’ use of alcohol and other substances report (2022-2023) can be found here: Secondary school students’ use of alcohol and other substances – 2022–2023 | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care


For media enquiries please call the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s media team on 0430 948 380 or email media@adf.org.au