New underage drinking laws empower parents

AMA WA president Michael Gannon.
AMA WA president Michael Gannon.

NEW laws to negate the supply of alcohol to children should help deter underage drinking and empower parents, the WA branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says.

As of November 20, people face a $10,000 fine if they supply alcohol to a juvenile in a private setting without first seeking consent from the child’s parents.

AMA WA president Michael Gannon said the changes were welcomed, considering underage drinkers are more likely to get alcohol from a friend or parent.

“Parents are entitled to think that when their teenage child goes to a friend’s house or party, they are not going to get drunk,” he said.

“This law gives parents some much needed peace of mind that their child will not consume any alcohol without their explicit consent.”

Dr Gannon said while it was unfortunate such a serious deterrent was needed, “our drinking culture has normalised alcohol consumption”.

He said more than 600 teens are admitted to emergency departments with alcohol-related injuries every year.

“While underage drinking rates have dropped over the last decade, far too many young Australians are getting hospitalised from alcohol related injuries,” he said.

“We urge all parents to seriously rethink exposing their children to alcohol before the age of 18.

“There is a growing body of evidence proving the vulnerability of the human brain to the toxic effects of alcohol into our 20s.”

Racing and Gaming Minister Colin Holt said the laws were not about reaching inside the home, but more about tackling those disregarding the wishes of other parents

“There are already laws preventing people supplying alcohol to under 18s in public places, including licensed venues,” he said.

“Secondary supply laws are designed to be complaint-driven and prevent anyone providing alcohol to under 18s without parental permission in a private setting.”