MISSPENT YOUTH: Angry young Lennox Head revellers in trouble at Lake Ainsworth on Australia Day.
MISSPENT YOUTH: Angry young Lennox Head revellers in trouble at Lake Ainsworth on Australia Day. Gareth Cody

Moves to wage war on under-age drinking

FEDERAL Health Minister Nicola Roxon has backed Northern Rivers calls for a national anti-drinking campaign in the wake of under-age drinking and brawling at Lennox Head on Australia Day.

The Northern Star yesterday reported on calls for a campaign similar to the successful anti-smoking crusade to tackle youth drinking.

In Lismore yesterday for the official opening of new accommodation for medical and nursing students, Ms Roxon told The Northern Star the whole community needed to work together to encourage responsible consumption of alcohol.

Asked if she thought an anti-drinking campaign mirroring the multi-pronged and substantial anti-smoking one was needed, Ms Roxon replied: “Yes.”

The Health Minister was responding to the Australia Day brawl at Lake Ainsworth which led to the arrest of more than 10, mainly under-age revellers.

“I think when these incidents happen it just highlights how important it is to encourage the community to be part of the solution,” she said.

Ms Roxon said an advertising campaign, to which the Federal Government had already committed $20 million, was just one of a range of measures needed to tackle the problem.

As Lennox Head continued to come to terms with Monday’s events, there were also calls for a tougher response.

State Ballina MP Don Page said consideration should be given to parents taking direct responsibility for their children’s behaviour.

“Make parents responsible for the actions of the child – I think there’s some argument for that,” Mr Page said.

“I think that would make parents a bit more concerned about what their child is doing, particularly where a parent contributes to the actions.”

If a child was found guilty of an offence committed under the influence of alcohol, and the parent contributed to the circumstances, Mr Page said the courts should be able to order the parent to pay for any damage.

Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce chairperson Louise Owen supported the idea.

“I’d fully support that,” she said.

“Make the parents responsible for their child’s behaviour when they’re under-age.”

Ms Owen is also taking her own solution to the next chamber meeting on Wednesday.

She will propose liquor outlets in town provide verbal and written warnings to shoppers that it was illegal to pass on alcohol to children.

“We need to get the message across locally: you’re buying something from us, use it within the law and with respect,” Ms Owen said.

“I think there would be major support (for this).”

The chamber of commerce meeting, which starts at 7am on Wednesday, February 4, at the Lennox Head Surf Life Saving Club, is open to the public.


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