The Australian National Council on Drugs provides advice to every school principal on fundraising and alcohol – highlighting that schools and alcohol simply can’t mix.
The Chairman of the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) Dr. John Herron has written to all school principals across Australia highlighting the key message that school fundraising activities and alcohol can’t mix.
The ANCD has worked closely with the Australian Secondary Principals Association and other principals and schools associations to develop the advice.
The letter provides every principal with links to information and assistance via its web based paper called ‘School Fundraising and Alcohol’.
Dr Herron said, “We want to point out that there are at times some issues with alcohol in the school system. Although they are very much in the minority it is important to have clear advice for principals to access so they can minimise any problems and harm. It is also clear that schools can play an integral role in helping our society in the long term by helping to change the culture associated with alcohol.”
“We are asking all schools not to permit the promotion, sale or use of alcohol products in any school fundraising activities.”
“The issue of alcohol misuse is of significant concern for parents, the general community and governments. There is now a significant body of research regarding the negative physical, mental health and social impact of alcohol on young people – particularly in relation to brain and cognitive development – and there is significant evidence on the enormous social, health and economic costs that result from alcohol misuse.”
The ANCD knows that the overwhelming majority of schools across Australia are keeping alcohol well away from school activities but says some concerns have been raised which has prompted the advice.
Some of the concerns raised with ANCD have included:
• Students being used as couriers between school and home for advertising material, forms and payment for the purchase of alcohol as a fundraising activity.
• School newsletters being used to promote alcohol sales as part of a fundraising activity.
• School administrative staff being involved in tasks such as copying, handling and collection of paperwork on alcohol related sales associated with fundraising activity.
• Parents being advised to encourage friends, relatives and neighbours to support the alcohol related fundraising activity by purchasing alcohol.
• Wine tasting events being organised on school premises.
• Alcohol products being labelled with the school name and logo to encourage greater sales.
Australian Secondary Principals Association President & ANCD Member Ms Sheree Vertigan said, “Schools have already shown themselves to be very inventive in the adoption of strategies to address childhood obesity including clear changes at the school canteen level. The adoption of policies to exclude the use alcohol in fundraising should be seen as part of a wider health promoting whole-of-school approach.”
“Obviously some schools have viticulture programs and vocational programs that relate to the responsible service of alcohol in the hospitality industry and the ANCD rightly acknowledge the educational role of those programs.”
“This advice has our full backing. Schools and alcohol can’t mix. We already know that mental health is a significant issue for young people. In a small number of cases alcohol is slipping through the net and this advice is there to highlight that when it comes to fundraising, alcohol should not be considered or present.”
Dr. John Herron added, “We’re aware many schools rely on parent and community support to provide quality programs and resources for their students. We also understand the financial pressures on schools require fundraising activities to supplement budgets. However, we are urging schools to include the strict avoidance of using children and young people under the age of 18 that in any way promotes alcohol.”
Dr. Herron added, “There are real community concerns about youth binge drinking and early exposure to alcohol use through family and community social events can influence attitudes and expectations about alcohol long before children ever consider using these alcohol themselves. It is vital schools consider the impact that the use of alcohol in fundraising activities may have on the attitudes and future behaviours of students.”
“Promoting alcohol products through school fundraising events can be seen by students as contradicting messages they are getting about alcohol.”
“We know that the Australian Government continues to commit some significant funding via its National Binge Drinking Strategy to address some of the problems associated with alcohol. However, with new estimates of over $35 billion a year in costs associated with alcohol misuse in this country, the ANCD believes that our schools are an integral part of our long and difficult path to changing the harmful culture that now surrounds alcohol.”
The advice – ‘School Fundraising and Alcohol’ – can be viewed at www.ancd.org.au .
Media inquiries to: Ross Woodward and Homira Samadi on 03 9769 6488