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Alcohol, crime and rural youth

Media Release

09 April 2000

Media release from Senator, the Hon Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Justice and Customs

A new paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology underlines the need for the early identification of people who are frequently involved in alcohol related crime, and their diversion into appropriate treatment and education programs, Senator Vanstone, Minister for Justice and Customs announced today. The title of the paper, written by Paul Williams, is Alcohol-related Social Disorder and Rural Youth: Part 2 - Perpetrators.

"The good news is that overall the percentage of people in rural and metropolitan areas who verbally or physically abused someone, and damaged or stole property while under the influence of alcohol has not increased," Senator Vanstone said.

"The bad news is that in both rural and metropolitan areas there were large increases in driving a motor vehicle and operating hazardous machinery while under the influence of alcohol."

"I am concerned that the survey identified a core group of people who are frequently involved in alcohol related crimes."

"The vast majority of young people aged 14 to 24 in rural areas are not involved in alcohol-related crimes. In fact, just one percent of rural youth was responsible between 1993 and 1998 for 16% of their age-groups alcohol-related crime and 12% were responsible for 75% of alcohol-related crime."

"The average number of alcohol related crimes committed by persons aged 14-24 also increased with the level of alcohol usually consumed. Rural youth drinking at harmful levels more than four times likely to commit an alcohol related crime."

"Young perpetrators of alcohol related abuse were also more likely to be the victims of verbal or physical abuse, to be the victims of property damage or theft than their metropolitan counterparts."

The paper uses data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey which asked respondents whether they had been the victims of or committed alcohol related verbal abuse, physical abuse, damaged property, stole property, drove a motor vehicle, operated hazardous machinery or caused a public disturbance.

The paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology also found that, compared to their metropolitan counterparts in 1998, rural youth (14-19) were less likely to be involved in verbal or physical abuse, stealing or public disturbance, but more likely to drive or operate hazardous machinery while affected by alcohol.

For older youths (20-24), they were less likely to be involved in physical abuse, public disturbance or operate hazardous machinery while affected by alcohol, but were more likely to be involved in verbal abuse, damaging property and driving under the influence of alcohol.

This is the second of two papers from the Australian Institute of Criminology looking at alcohol-related social disorder and rural youth. This paper focuses on perpetrators; the first focused on the victims of abuse.