Sporting clubs in WA have a culture of alcohol abuse and drink-driving among their members which must change, leading health experts warned yesterday.
Healthway chairwoman Rosanna Capolingua and McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth director Mike Daube said alcohol had become too intertwined with sporting clubs.
Launching the Australia Drug Foundation's Good Sports program in Perth, Dr Capolingua urged clubs to join the program and actively discourage binge drinking and drink-driving among their members.
Alexander Park Tennis Club yesterday became the first WA member of the program, which is used by more than 5000 clubs nationwide.
Dr Capolingua said some clubs were sending the wrong message by offering bar vouchers as prizes for best players or holding alcohol raffles.
She believed clubs could attract more families and supporters by reducing their focus on the sale and consumption of alcohol.
Foundation chief executive John Rogerson said clubs which had signed up to the program had proved more attractive to sponsors.
The clubs were asked to ensure they had responsible service of alcohol policies and encouraged safe consumption by providing substantial meals and serving water to patrons.
Clubs were also urged to provide transport options for members to deter drink-driving.
Mr Rogerson said independent research had found that among members of Good Sports, there was on average a 22 per cent drop in self-reported risky drinking among members and an 8 per cent fall in drink-driving.
He hoped WA sports groups would support the program.
Professor Daube was concerned by the central role alcohol consumption played in the culture of many local clubs.
WA Road Safety Council chairman D'Arcy Holman said he would be pleased to see sporting clubs take measures to reduce the risk of drink-driving among patrons.
"Self-regulation is important and essentially people are dicing with death by driving if not sure of their blood-alcohol concentration," he said.
"Support from the venues where alcohol is served plays an important role in helping patrons be aware of their alcohol consumption and sharing the attitude that drink-driving is never OK."