“He’s grown from a boy in to a fine example of a man”
As if it were a cue, his father’s speech finishes and the chant begins.
…he’s true blue…he was going to go to heaven but he went the other way….
The proud young man resists the urge to thrust the glass high in the air like a prize trophy, instead raising it slowly, cautiously resting its rim against his lips.
…he went down down down down…
Tipping the end of his glass skyward, the amber liquid begins its journey.
…down down down down…
The first few mouthfuls are slow but what was a measured pace is now a roaring flood. Beer spilling first, over his chin and face, then his chest and the floor.
As friends of the young man step up to finish what he could not of his yard glass, the crowd cheers wildly in the dimly lit party room of the local RSL. Somewhere in the crowd, his father reconsiders his closing words.
Attempting to drink a yard glass of beer, or 1.4L for those wondering, is a tradition at 21st birthday parties in Australia. I say “attempt” because in most cases, whether through spillage or vomit, most of the beer ends up on the floor.
Most would say it’s harmless fun, simply celebrating a milestone. It’s what you do when you turn 21.
I write today to tell you different.
On its own, it may seem like harmless frivolity but in a society that is so strongly affected by binge drinking it is yet another seed panted in a young mind.
Alcohol consumption caused the death of 32,696 Australians between 1996 and 2005, that’s over 3,000 people each year. Further to this, 813,072 Australians were hospitalised due to alcohol-caused injury and disease over the same period. Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency
Australia has a binge drinking problem, 80% of Australians agree with me but it seems that same 80% are having little effect.
Every Sunday night, without fail our news broadcasters share stories of alcohol induced violence, teenage parties turned in to riots and regrettably, death and hospitalizations. Just last week, an 18 year old boy was king hit whilst walking innocently along a street. His head hit the pavement and is now dead. Alcohol was no doubt a player in this crime.
The annual cost of Alcohol related crime in Australia is $1.7 billion. v$750 million alone on policing.
Although I wish he was, Thomas Kelly, the 18 year old who lost his life, is by no means unique, although I wish he was. Five million Australians have been effected by alcohol related violence, 2.6 million as direct victims.
The answer isn’t an increase in taxes, banning of pre-mixed drinks or midnight curfews. The answer is responsibility; responsibility for yourself, your friends and your drink.
To put it in terms as Australians, we all understand. Look out for ya mates.
More than half the Australian population believe that governments (58%), pubs and clubs (68%), and alcohol companies (74%) are not doing enough to address these concerns yet 4 million Australians admit to getting drunk.
If Australians were really true blue they’d put down that glass but it seems we’re piss pots through and through.