06 Jan, 2018 Last updated: 09 Nov, 2018

VicHealth launches new competition to tackle the impact of alcohol harm on young people.

A new initiative from health promotion foundation VicHealth seeks to mobilise young Victorians fed up with the incessant marketing and manipulation from the alcohol industry.

Top Spin, a statewide competition, will ask young people to call out the sneaky tactics the industry uses to influence them to drink and promote the ideas they have to create change.

Data recently released by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare* shows the proportion of people aged 18-29 drinking at risky levels significantly declined in the six years to 2016. Despite the positive trend, young people are still more likely to come to harm from alcohol than any other age group.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said this generation of young people were more aware of the harmful impact of alcohol and less likely to fall prey to the alcohol industry’s tactics.

“While Victorians in their 20s are still more likely than other age groups to drink in a risky way, they are drinking less than previous generations at the same age and they are more supportive of action to reduce the harms caused by alcohol,” Ms Rechter said.  

“Young people are also becoming more sceptical of the alcohol industry’s spin. It’s becoming increasingly uncool to be drunk, which is great to see.”

In response to this change, Top Spin, a creative competition, aims to get young Victorians talking, and taking action, about the role alcohol plays in their lives, including the influence of the alcohol industry.

The five-week competition seeks to highlight the tactics in alcohol advertising, the connection between sport and alcohol, the alcohol industry’s political influence and the boozy culture young adults encounter during major life transitions, like starting uni or getting their first job.

Dr Michael Livingston from the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at La Trobe University said the alcohol industry needed to be held accountable for its harmful business model and he hoped this generation of young people would be the ones to do it.

“With the advance of social media and an emphasis on being healthy, many young people are drinking less which is certainly not in the alcohol industry’s best interests,” Dr Livingston said.

“We know the industry deliberately targets young people who are drinking the most. The good news is young people are questioning their relationship with alcohol and the companies pushing it.”

Ms Rechter said Top Spin was about supporting young people to peel back the curtains and uncover the tactics used by the alcohol industry.

“There are a number of factors that influence the way we drink but the millions of dollars spent by the alcohol industry in advertising and lobbying certainly plays a big role,” Ms Rechter said.

“While young people today are savvier than previous generations, we know that many haven’t considered how advertising and other alcohol industry tactics might be influencing their own decisions when it comes to drinking. For example, how many of us actually stop to think about the reasons behind the saturation of alcohol advertising at our major sporting events?

“The alcohol industry doesn’t care about young people’s health or wellbeing – it makes money off young people drinking to excess.

“We’re hoping this initiative will encourage young people to stop and think about how their relationship with alcohol is impacted by the industry and how they can continue to be the voice for change.”

Top Spin asks young people aged 18-29 to share their thoughts, experiences and reflections on alcohol culture through a creative competition. Each week a judging panel of young people, creative professionals and health experts will award one contribution a $1000 cash prize. Entries are now open at www.top-spin.com.au



Notes to editors:

Partners supporting the initiative include Melbourne University, Monash University, Swinburne University, YMCA Victoria, Youth Affairs Council Victoria, Australian Graphic Design Association and the Alcohol Policy Coalition.

Quick stats that show a decline in young people's drinking habits:

  • Since 2010, the number of young people drinking at risky levels has declined significantly (from 31% in 2010 to 18.5% in 2016).
  • In 2016, young people were more likely to have reduced the number of times they drank at risky levels compared to older age groups.
  • The proportion of teenagers abstaining from drinking significantly increased from 72% to 82% between 2013-2016 – up from 54% in 2004.


Evidence there is still a problem:

  • 1 in 5 Australians aged 14 and over (equivalent to 4.4 million people) had been a victim of an alcohol-related incident.
  • Alcohol-related hospitalisations for people aged 15-24 years have increased in Victoria by 24% since 2009/2010.
  • People in their late teens and early 20s were more likely to consume 11 or more standard drinks at least monthly than people in other age groups.


NB:* Unless otherwise stated, all statistics are from the 2016 AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which surveyed almost 24,000 people across Australia on their tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use, attitudes and opinions. 



Media contact

Jacqui Loftus-Hills at The PR Group: [email protected], 0416 778 146