Alcohol and Harm Minimisation Among Australian University Students Project
Young people aged 15-24, particularly university students, are the group at greatest risk of alcohol-related accidents and injuries in Australia. The cost of such harm to the students’ health and wellbeing, and to the organisations responsible for providing health, social and accommodation services is immense.
This ARC Linkage project is the largest ever study of university students’ alcohol use and harm minimisation practices within Australia. The project began in October 2010 and runs until December 2013. We aim to develop a new theoretical approach to understanding harm minimisation and better strategies for achieving it. The project is driven by a multisector partnership of university colleges, the State health authorities of NSW and Victoria, and an interdisciplinary research team from the University of Sydney (project leaders), Monash University, the University of Newcastle and the University of Queensland.
Strategies for advancing harm minimisation among Australian university students
The project is comprised of a suite of studies designed to examine the alcohol use of both college and non-college university students from metropolitan and regional areas within Australia. As of September 2012, much of the data collection and analysis involved in the research have been completed. Following an extensive survey that has mapped students’ alcohol practices, our researchers have conducted focus groups and interviews with undergraduate students. The qualitative research has explored what drinking means to students, their interpretations of harm minimisation, and the social dynamics surrounding their alcohol use. Two further studies have a policy focus with one focusing on policy and management approaches to students’ alcohol use and harm minimisation within university colleges, and the other analysing various national and international policies which pertain to young people’s alcohol use.
The project partners’ involvement in the study is expected to provide them with knowledge and understanding that will support them to advance strategies to facilitate safe drinking among Australian university students
A key outcome of the research will be the development of a new theoretical approach that will understand harm minimisation as a social process that involves the interaction of the project’s key participants. The researchers anticipate that published results of the studies will start to appear in peer reviewed journals and international edited collections in 2013.