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The true cost of alcohol-related harm in Australia revealed


In February the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) launched findings of research into what it terms the ‘hidden harm’ of the impact of alcohol on women, children and families.

The research report, The hidden harm: Alcohol’s impact on children and families, finds that over a million children in Australia (that is, 22% of all Australian children) are ‘estimated to be affected in some way by the drinking of others’, and in 2011 there were more than 29,000 incidents of alcohol-related domestic violence reported to the police (and these figures are drawn only from four states and territories that have data available).

This report follows an international report called The range and magnitude of alcohol’s harm to others, which was published in 2010 and was the first report to look at the harms of alcohol on people other than the drinker. The new FARE Hidden harm report looks at the situation from an Australian perspective.

To complement the report, FARE has also produced a lengthy (86 pages) Policy Options Paper, which puts forward 28 policy options covering all aspects of the issue from reducing health and social inequalities to reducing the availability and promotion of alcohol to increasing public education programs. CEO of FARE Michael Thorn said that: ‘If we are serious about reducing alcohol-related family violence, we have to consider a wider range of policy measures. We need national public education campaigns that acknowledge and address the role of alcohol in family violence; we need targeted screening of young people at greater risk of harm; and measures that reduce the availability, target the price, and regulate the promotion of alcohol; together with efforts to improve the way in which the alcohol and other drugs sector collaborates with domestic violence, child protection and mental health services’.

Feedback about these policy options is keenly sought. It can be provided online at: by 31 March. Anyone working with youth in the areas of family violence, alcohol dependence or related areas will find both the report and the Policy Options Paper important reading.

To download the report, a summary of the report and a media release, go to: You can also download the Policy Options Paper from this page (scroll down to find it).

Coverage of this report has been widespread. Go to the FARE website home page to follow the latest:

(Source: media release from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, 29 January 2023; DrinkTank email, 4 March 2023.)

If you don’t want to drink alcohol you don’t need a reason to say no


The ‘No excuse needed’ campaign was launched earlier this year in Victoria and is aimed at empowering young Australians to say no to alcohol; the campaign is a joint initiative between VicHealth and the Victorian State Government.

The campaign challenges perceived views about young people’s drinking, such as the idea that all young people drink heavily on a regular basis, and that most of them drink with the intention of getting drunk.

The humorous campaign, which features short videos of Millie the marathon runner and Steve who has a python draped around his neck, directs young drinkers to a plethora of information and support services. According to VicHealth, the majority (61%) of young Victorians don’t drink to get drunk, and yet 42% of young Victorians ‘feel obliged to drink when others around them are drinking’.

The ‘No excuse needed’ website is at:

(Source: FARE website, viewed 6 March 2023.)

International health summit: Wellbeing should be taught in schools


An international summit has released a statement calling for a radical overhaul of the way the mental health of children is handled and emphasising that early intervention is vital to improve the situation.

The World Innovation Summit in Health (WISH), held in Doha during February, saw the launch of Healthy young minds: Transforming the mental health of children, a report written by Professor Richard Layard, an academic at the London School of Economics. In the report Prof. Layard says that childhood mental illness needs to be taken as seriously as physical illness, and that the way to tackle the problem is by using new technologies, including smartphones.

Supporting the ideas behind this report was a keynote speech by Lord Darzi, a former UK health minister, who said that schools were becoming ‘exam factories’ where little attention is paid to the overall psychological wellbeing of students. Stress linked to exams has increased markedly in recent years. The UK charity Childline, which provides telephone counselling for young people, has said that calls associated with stress more than tripled in 2014.

The report, which focuses on the mental health of under-18s who currently make up one-third of the world’s population, is well laid out and highly readable. It stresses that mental health problems in children and young people need to be recognised by parents, doctors and teachers, and that society as a whole needs to be more open about treating this important aspect of young people’s lives: ‘Life skills should be taught as professionally as mathematics or literature’, said Lord Darzi.

Throughout the report are ‘action points’, which recommend immediate steps to be taken to improve young people’s mental health. The section on ‘Mobilizing the mobile’ is direct:

  • ACTION POINT 9. USE OF MOBILES: There should be a major international program to develop free smartphone-based approaches to all our recommendations. A major international charity should be asked to support this.

Read the full 40-page report at:

Read the WISH media release:

(Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 15 February 2023; World Innovation Summit for Health website, viewed 5 March 2023.)

National conference to discuss youth mental health


An important conference in May will examine several aspects of youth mental health, including new strategies education professionals can use to combat mental health issues in the classroom.

Understanding and Promoting the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People will be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 7–8 May 2023, and is a joint initiative of the Young and Well CRC, Critical Agendas and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

The aims of the conference are to:

  • Acknowledge and understand the large number of support agencies able to assist young people with mental health issues
  • Develop new units/programs that can support students through schooling
  • Examine new ideas and strategies that can be used in the classroom
  • Allow networking among youth mental health professionals.

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, managing director of the Young and Well CRC, will deliver a keynote address on the topic of ‘How do we tackle the resource crisis in adolescent mental health in Australia?’. He will also be running a workshop.

For more, and to register, go to:

(Source: Young and Well CRC Update, February 2023.)

Inaugural forum spreads knowledge across the headspace network



More than 600 headspace staff members from around Australia gathered in Melbourne for the inaugural headspace forum on 4–5 March.

The two-day forum gave individual headspace programs and centres the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and share their work with a national audience.

It also featured an address from guest speaker Professor Jan Scott (Newcastle University, UK) and a panel session on the future direction of headspace, including board directors Pat McGorry and John McGrath, executive members Kathleen Alonso and Elisabeth Tuckey, clinical leads Sandra Radovini and Steve Leicester, and Youth National Reference Group member Kieran Stubbs.

Source:headspace website, 6 March 2023.

Updated mental health fact sheets now available


headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, has recently updated the content and the look of a number of its older mental health fact sheets.

To browse the full list of these downloadable fact sheets, visit:

 (Source: headspace enewsletter, 12 March 2023.)

Young people exposing themselves to unsafe sound levels


Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Data from studies in middle- and high-income countries analysed by WHO indicate that nearly 50% of 12–35-year-olds are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices and around 40% are exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events.

WHO recommends that the highest permissible level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85 dB up to a maximum of eight hours per day. Many patrons of nightclubs, bars and sporting events are often exposed to even higher levels of sound, and should therefore considerably reduce the duration of exposure. For example, exposure to noise levels of 100 dB, which is typical in such venues, is safe for no more than 15 minutes.

To mark International Ear Care Day on 3 March, WHO launched a ‘Make Listening Safe’ initiative to draw attention to the dangers of unsafe listening and promote safer practices. To find our more, visit:

(Source: World Health Organization media release, 27 February 2023) 

Call for Adolescent Mental Health and Substance Use service providers to contribute to online research survey


The NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use invites all service providers who work with and for adolescents with co-occurring PTSD and drug/alcohol use, to take part in a short online research survey.

The researchers encourage drug and alcohol workers, counsellors, nurses, psychologists and others working in drug and alcohol or mental health settings that work with adolescent clients, to participate in the survey. The research aims to ultimately assist in improving the experiences of service providers working in this very important area.

To access the survey, go to:

Or for more information, contact Dr Emma Barrett (Project Co-ordinator) on (03) 93850164 or [email protected].


(Source: NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use News, 10 February 2023.)

ATO keen to get youth to save, save, save



To coincide with National Youth Week, which was held earlier this month, the Australian Tax Office is urging all young Australians to sort their super and start saving.

ATO Deputy Commissioner Steve Vesperman says the best place to get assistance is the ATO App for smart phones and tablet devices, which can be downloaded free from Google Play, Windows Phone Store and the Apple App Store.

‘It puts all the tax and super info you need in the palm of your hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you conduct your super and tax affairs on the go,’ he said.

The ATO has an easy way to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN), which is necessary for anyone using the tax system. Without it ‘employers and super funds withhold tax at the highest marginal rate, and it makes paying tax, applying for student loans, opening a bank account and dealing with other government agencies much more difficult,  says Mr Vesperman.

To get a TFN, simply complete an online form on the ATO’s website, download the summary and take it to one of 480 participating post offices with the required ID. You also require a TFN to apply for a loan under the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) or Trade Support Loan (TSL) program, when you start work and lodge a tax return.

More than 1.15 million people under the age of 25 have a taxable income, so it’s important that they get a handle on their tax. Around 45% of 18- to 35-year-olds have more got more than one super account, each of which could be costing them up to $500 a year in fees. The ATO is encouraging those with multiple accounts to combine into one preferred account. The ATO’s John Shepherd says that those relatively new to the workforce often have a number of jobs and open a new super account at each job.

‘Some accounts include an insurance entitlement which is cancelled when the account is closed, so remember to check this before you consolidate,’ said Mr Shepherd. 

For more see the ATO YouTube video or click here

Source:email from the Australian Taxation Office, 14 April 2023.

NPS: a resource to help workers educate youth about these new drugs



Recognising the challenge that new psychoactive substances (NPS) present, the UK Government has developed an information pack offering a range of approaches that workers can employ when working with young people who use NPS.

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) Resource pack for informal educators and practitioners has been produced by the UK’s Home Office in response to those working directly with young people. They wanted more information about NPS drugs, and the ways in which others in the field tackle the challenge of educating young people about them, and what tools they use to do so. NPS are drugs designed to ‘replicate the effects of illegal substances’ and are sometimes referred to as legal highs. The introduction of this resource emphasises that NSP drugs may be advertised as legal but that ‘just because they are advertised as legal, doesn’t mean they are safe or legal – by definition, this exposes young people to risk and participation in risky behaviours’.

The resource covers the types of drugs now available in this category, interventions and approaches and a section on further information and resources, which also includes case studies. A useful appendix contains activities, such as quizzes, that can be used effectively with young people to extend their knowledge of NPS.

Although this resource has been produced for UK youth workers and health practitioners, it will be a useful guide for anyone working in this field.  

Click here to access the 31-page resource. 

Source:Drug Info Alert, 15 April 2023.

'When your parent has a mental illness...'



COPMI (Children of parents with a mental illness) have produced a resource for teenagers, designed to help young people to better understand their parent's illness and how to access support when they need it.

This very useful publication is free and can be ordered from their website, where you can also download various fact sheets and videos on depression and other related topics. 

For more information, click here to go to COPMI's website.

Source:AICAFMHA newsletter, 31 March 2023.