The Drinking Age Should Remain 18 in Australia Essay

The Drinking Age Should Remain 18 Years Old in Australia The Drinking Age Should Remain 18 Years Old in Australia These days there are a number of social issues in the community, such as drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is rampant in today’s society, Australian Drug Foundation states that, “Alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive, or mood-changing, recreational drug in Australia. ”(Healey, 2002, p. 11). Underage drinking and binge drinking are some of the problems associated with alcohol abuse.

Most countries and cultures across the world experience these issues with 83% of the world population being allowed to drink at the age of 18, and the remaining 17% of the world population are legally allowed to consume alcohol over the age of 18-years-old. (International Center for Alcohol Policies, 2002). Australia is one of many countries unable to control this growing problem and is researching ways to reduce this behavior in its youth.

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Recently there has been much discussion regarding changing the legal drinking age in Australia from 18-years-old to 21-years-old, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says, “he’d personally like to see the legal drinking age lifted to 21 years. ”, (ABC News, 2010 ), to decrease the amount of underage drinking, binge drinking and alcohol-affected behavior, such as drink driving, aggression and promiscuity. The legal drinking age in Australia should remain at 18-years-old for a number of reasons; Australia’s drinking culture, society’s expectations, and comparisons between America and Australia.

There are many alcohol and social problems associated with the 18-year-old legal drinking age. “Excessive alcohol use many contribute to many personal and social problems… [such as] family problems, legal problems: drink driving…, loss of license, and…imprisonment…, [and] sexual problems…”(Healey, 2002, p. 14). Therefore the Australian Government has been trying to find a solution, to minimize the crimes related to these problems. Raising the legal drinking age to 21-years-old is one of the ideas. “Mr. Rudd said there had been a few discussions about it, and personally of course” he would like to raise it, but more evidence would be needed in order for it to become policy. ”(ABC News, 2010). The reason for doing this is their “…plans for an Australia-wide crackdown on booze-fuelled crime” (Caldwell, 2009) and the “… concerning factor in P-Plate driving deaths. ”(Sunday Times, 2010). On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Q&A program on the 8th of February 2010, speaking to 200 high school students, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said; ‘‘(The) drinking rates of young teenagers (is) going through the roof … nd hugely affecting their ability to, frankly, manoeuvre a car. ”(Sunday Times, 2010). However, it is unjust to take away an adult’s rights. “The majority of young people are behaving in a very responsible manner and for Government to come in and ban them from having a drink or having a good time is not the right thing to do,” Young Liberals Movement, National President Richard Wilson said. (ABC News, 2010). It is unfair to punish the majority for the actions of an irresponsible few. First of all, Australia has a history of alcohol use and an ingrained drinking culture.

The Australian reputation as a drinking nation is aptly described by Mack Holt, when he stated “”They are not a nation of snobs like the English or of extravagant boasters like the Americans or of reckless profligates like the French, they are simply a nation of drunkards. “(Mack, 2006). Alcohol is used in many social and life situations; it is used in celebrations, relaxation, and social gatherings. All through Australia, in every class, it is not considered good form for a man to drink by himself. Very few even of the most hopeless drunkards ever do so.

The consequence is, that when a man feels inclined to drink, he immediately looks out for someone to drink with. At whatever hour of the day a mans meets another whom he has not seen for say twelve hours, etiquette requires that he shall incontinently invite him to come and drink. This is a custom that pervades every class in the colony, and cannot be departed from without something more than a breach of good manners. (“Drinking Etiquette,” n. d. ) Alcohol helps people remove their barriers; lose their inhibitions, and form friendships, relationships, and acts as a social lubricant.

In Australia many business deals have been conducted over a drink or two. In addition to the Australian drinking culture, at 18-years-old you are legally an adult. Thus, society has many expectations of young adults such as employment and study. Australian policies allow 18-year-olds to vote, marry, drive a vehicle, and obtain a gun license; furthermore, it is 18-year-olds right as an adult to drink. “Eighteen-year-olds could vote to change government, get married, have children, enter into legally-binding contracts and were treated as adults by the justice system,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said on a matter. News, 2010). Before the Vietnam War in 1962 the legal drinking age in Australia was 21. “The drinking age in Australia was lowered to 18 from 21 during the Vietnam War on the grounds that if 18-year-olds could be conscripted, they should have the right to vote and drink as well. ”(Urban, 2009). Therefore, the law has been previously changed and it would be unadvisable to change the law again; these changes won’t resolve the abuse of alcohol and the impacts on youth.

Moreover, if the drinking age of 21 is to be implemented, the contradiction arises with the legal adult age. Finally, the comparisons between Australia and America in relation to the successful execution of the change in the drinking age; though both countries are similar, their differences in history and in culture; therefore, they should not be compared. Despite America’s 21-year-old legal drinking age, it’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that “in 2003, 29. 3% of youth ages 12-20 reported consuming alcohol in past 30 days. (Fennell, 2007). This demonstrates that even though America has a high legal drinking age; this does not stop the youth from drinking. As reported in the Journal of American College Health – Vol. 56, No. 3 – by Dr Reginald Fennell – executive editor for the journal and the professor of health education at the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio “[p]erhaps it is time for the United States to re-examine the minimum drinking age and progressively return to a minimum drinking age of at least 18 years. ”(Fennell, 2007).

Hence, even American doctors believe that the legal age of 21-years-old is ineffective and should be reduce to 18 years of age. The information above demonstrates that raising the legal drinking age to 21 will be unsuccessful and it is not a solution to the drinking problems in Australia. Given the above arguments, the legal drinking age in Australia should remain at 18-years-old. When a pastime is ingrained in a country’s culture; therefore, it is difficult for the government to change “the way things are” and the norm in society.

All the legal policies in Australia permit 18-years-old as adults; there are numbers of expectations of adults such as voting, marriage, and entering legally-binding contracts. Thus, it is an adult’s right to consume alcohol, as it is to perform these other “adult” tasks. America is a good example that a higher legal drinking age is not a solution and would not work for Australia. In my opinion, instead of changing the legal drinking age to 21, they should introduce tougher penalties and higher fines for alcohol fuelled crimes.

For example, instead of losing your license for six months; it should be raised to at least one year. If the crime is committed again, the driver’s license should be confiscated for at least two years. References Caldwell, A. (2009, November 19). Call to lift legal drinking age above 18 and save lives. Sunday Mail. Retrieved from http://www. couriermail. com. au Drinking Etiquette. [n. d. ] Retrieved from the Convict Creations Web site: http://www. convictcreations. com/culture/drinking. htm Fennell, R. (2007). Drinking is fun” and “There is nothing you can do about it”: The problem with the 21-year-old minimum drinking age. Journal of American College Health, 56(3), 213-215. Healey, J. (2002). Alcohol and young people. In J. Healey (Ed. ), Alcohol Use (pp. 11-3). Rozelle, NSW: The Spinney Press. International Center of Alcohol Policies. (2002). Minimum Drinking and Purchasing Age Laws. Retrieved May 8, 2010, from http://www. grsproadsafety. org/themes/default/pdfs/Drinking%20Age%20Limits. pdf Mack, P. (2006). Holt Alcohol: A Social and Cultural History. Oxford: Berg Publishers.

Potsdam: Alcohol problems and solutions. [2010]. Available from http://www2. potsdam. edu/hansondj/index. html Prime Minister Kevin Rudd wants legal drinking age raised to 21. (2010, February 9). Sunday Times. Retrieved from http://www. perthnow. com. au Raising drinking age to 21 ‘unworkable’. (2010, February 9). News. Retrieved from http://www. news. com. au Rudd wants drinking age lifted to 21. (2010, February 9). ABC News. Retrieved from http://www. abc. net. au Urban, P. B. (2009, October 22). Call to lift minimum drinking age to 21. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from


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