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Teen binge drinking rate down ahead of schoolies events

EPA PHOTO

Binge drinking among 14 to 24-year-olds has decreased by 15 per cent over the past 12 months, according to a report into alcohol, tobacco and drug use by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The proportion of people in that age group abstaining from alcohol has risen to 21 per cent, which is now greater than the percentage of young people engaging in persistent consumption of alcohol at levels that present life-long risks.

Christian youth charity Red Frogs Queensland state director Chris George said the results of the AIHW study, released on November 1, were encouraging ahead of schoolies celebrations.

"The study has highlighted the downward trends in alcohol risk-taking behaviour and we would echo that at schoolies across the nation and in particular Queensland ," Mr George said.

Red Frogs has predicted about 20,000 year 12 students will head to schoolies events on the Gold Coast this month with a total across Queensland reaching more than 40,000 partygoers.

Mr George said one factor behind the change might be the growing proportion of year 12 students who reached the age of 18 before graduation.

"Pre-2019 the majority were under-18 and the risk taking was a lot worse but now the maturity is coming through the cohort," he said.

Mr George described the Christian youth charity as acting like the "bumpers at a bowling alley" in making sure people had a good time without getting into trouble.

Volunteers for the group have handed out 24 tonnes of red frog lollies to young people since 1997 as part of promoting safety at events.

Mr George said education seminars by Red Frogs and other groups about drug and alcohol risks combined with young people putting a greater focus on their health were also helping to reduce binge drinking.

"(Schoolies) is going to be busy but hopefully not as busy with alcohol-related incidents," he said.