New Year’s Eve is no excuse for binge drinking

NEW Year’s Eve celebrations are set to be uncorked across the south-west tonight with all the usual excitement, colour and noise.

Fireworks at midnight, and earlier for family-friendly events, will light up our skies in a symbol of good times had and the hope of bright days ahead in the next 12 months.

Sadly, many revellers won’t remember seeing them or will be unable to witness the spectacle because of over-doing their celebrations.

Just as fireworks are a key component of New Year’s Eve, alcohol sits on top of many shopping lists and dominates activities.

As a society, we have largely adopted a drinking in moderation approach to alcohol.

But it seems Australians are becoming more accepting of blind drunkenness.

Decades ago, drunks were frowned upon and shamed — now we seem to celebrate increasing levels of intoxication like an Olympic sport where the ‘best’ performer is awarded a medal.

It’s not new. It’s just that it seems to be more prevalent and visible.

Tonight, police patrols will be ramped up across the region. First and foremost they want revellers to have a fun, safe time, but alcohol-fuelled behaviour, whether at parties, in vehicles or on our streets, will dominate their time.

Under-age drinking and associated unruly behaviour will again be a target.

It will be far from a night worth celebrating for police and other emergency services personnel.

For them, it’s their busiest night of the year and one they rightfully dread.

What must concern them most is that those abusing alcohol are getting younger, despite better educational programs and a bigger emphasis on parents to address the issue.

As much as tonight is about having a good time, parents have to set a responsible example for their offspring to follow.

That alone won’t reduce binge drinking, but it’s a start.

The new state government in a pre-election strategy revealed it wanted to reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions and create partnerships that delivered cultural change, education and support programs.

That aim is itself a beginning but are we ready for that?

Look around tonight and the evidence will speak for itself.

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