St John Ambulance statistics show the number of Perth teenagers treated by paramedics after consuming too much alcohol increased again last year despite State Government claims that youth drinking rates were the lowest in a decade.
Former Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said in March less young people were drinking big amounts of alcohol because of a raft of government initiatives that were designed to target young drinkers.
“The latest survey of Western Australian school students shows the proportion choosing not to drink alcohol has more than doubled from 12.3 per cent in 2005 to 31.5 per cent in 2014,” she said.
“This reflects the important contribution prevention campaigns are making in targeting young people and parents with the message that drinking at a young age is a risk to their health and wellbeing.”
But St John Ambulance statistics showed that paramedics were called to treat almost 400 intoxicated children and teenagers last year and 284 of them had to be taken to hospital.
The results represented a seven per cent increase from 2014.
St John Ambulance WA manager of media and public relations Dennis Bertoldo said there had not been a noticeable fall in the number of youths requiring ambulance treatment because they had been drinking.
“Our ambulance data indicates an increasing number of youths are having to be transported to hospital each year for the reason of alcohol intoxication,” he said.
St John Ambulance paramedic Tanya Moore said teenagers were becoming more arrogant about their drug and alcohol use.
“I do not believe the government-funded campaigns against underage drinking are having any impact on youth’s mentality towards alcohol at all,” Mrs Moore said.
“I think they are falling on deaf ears.
“Youths of today believe they are invincible, that nothing will happen to them.”
The State Government’s latest campaign Parents, Young People and Alcohol ‘I See’ encourages people under 18 to avoid drinking alcohol because it’s the safest option.
Mandurah teenager Tamara May, 16, said most teenagers would ignore the campaign.
“I’ve seen them on both television and social media. They make a difference on how I see drinking by making me more conscious of the danger in it,” she said.
“Although I feel like many teens when they see the ads just think, ‘oh well it’ll never happen to me.’
“You just have to make sure you decide for yourself and if you say ‘no’, stick with it.”
Mrs Moore said it was time for a different approach.
“I believe youths need to be taken to a major trauma hospital such as Royal Perth to see first-hand the effects that alcohol and drugs can have on a person’s life,” she said.
“Mental health institutes need to accept teenagers in and show the consequences they are having on our youth.
“The damage and pain inflicted cannot be learnt from TV ads. It needs to be seen and felt.”