Following a weekend where police arrested 737 young people in New South Wales for alcohol-fuelled violence, Seventh-day Adventists called on Australian governments to raise the legal age for purchasing and consuming alcohol to 21.
The delegates voted to take action to lobby the federal Senate Community Affairs Committee and state legislative assemblies.
The recent 214 page report entitled “The Range and Magnitude of Alcohol’s Harm to Others” (August, 2010) by the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation, documents the magnitude of the harm that alcohol consumption inflicts on Australian communities. Numerous surveys conducted in Australia over the past 10 years reveal:
• the proportion of teenagers drinking at least weekly was around 22%;
• more than a quarter (26.3%) of 14-19-year-olds put themselves at risk of alcohol-related harm in the short term at least once a month during the previous 12 months; higher among females of this age (28.3%) than males (24.5%).
Seventh-day Adventists have held a strong view on the consumption of alcohol for more than 100 years, and discourage its use strongly among church members. Delegates at the Australian church’s quinquennial (once in 5 years) meetings voted:
We, the representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Australia, meeting in Melbourne on this day (September 6, 2010) request that the Governments of Australia, both Federal (Senate Community Affairs Committee) and State (Legislative Assemblies) take proactive measures to dramatically reduce the damage of alcohol on our young people.
Therefore, we request that legislation be introduced to raise the legal age for the purchase and consumption of alcohol to twenty-one (21).
The legal age for consuming and purchasing alcohol in the USA is 21.
Shane Varcoe (Director of the Dalgarno Institute) told the delegates in Melbourne about the problems associated with alcohol consumption, drawing attention to the growing evidence that drinking before the maturation of the brain at around 25 years of age is dangerous.
In light of the tragic toll that alcohol reaps on Australian families, and the benefits of obtained by abstinence, delegates also voted:
We, as representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, gathered at the national quinquennial meetings of the Australian Union Conference (6 September 2010), declare our commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s scripturally based and historic stand for the principles of temperance as a part of our stewardship and discipleship under Christ, and thus call upon each member to affirm and reveal a life commitment to abstinence from any form of alcohol.