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DrinkWise Australia (DrinkWise) is an Australian social change organisation created to harness the power of evidenced based social marketing to bring about a healthier, safer drinking culture in Australia - where drinking to excess or drinking too young is considered undesirable.

DrinkWise's philosophy is founded on industry leadership and community partnerships. It is currently funded by voluntary contributions from alcohol industry participants, and has in the past received some government funding to support specific initiatives. [1]

The organisation is governed by a board of eminent Australians [2] with backgrounds including business, politics, community service, academia, education, research and marketing. Drinkwise's alcohol industry contributors are directly represented on its board.


DrinkWise Australia was established in 2005 following $5 million funding from the Federal Government as announced by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing in the then Australian Government, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP (Media Release).

Board Members

Under the DrinkWise constitution, the board must comprise seven (7) community members and six (6) industry representatives with the Chair being a community member. Current board members (2014) are:

  • Mr Neil Comrie AO, APM - Chair
  • James Brindley
  • Niki Ellis
  • Peter Hurley
  • Hon. Rob Knowles AO
  • Ari Mervis
  • Giuseppe Minissale
  • Tim Salt
  • Paul Sheahan AM
  • Terry Slater
  • Professor Richard Smallwood AO
  • Kate Thompson
  • Amanda Vanstone

None of the DrinkWise community members are in receipt of funding from the alcohol industry, although payment for their role as Board Members is provided, as it is for the Chair.



To date, DrinkWise Australia has launched a range of social marketing campaigns and initiatives including: Kids Absorb Your Drinking, Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix and How to Drink Properly.

Kids Absorb Your Drinking

Launched in June 2008, the Kids Absorb Your Drinking campaign marked DrinkWise Australia’s initial step towards engaging generational change in attitudes to alcohol. The campaign was created to raise awareness of the importance of role-modelling behaviour of parents in relation to their consumption of alcohol. In a 2008 media release, DrinkWise cites research that supports the view that there is a strong positive correlation between the way parents drink and how their children grow up to drink. According to Drinkwise, children form their attitudes towards alcohol a long time before they’ve had their first drink by observing how their parents and other adults around them drink. [3]

Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix

In 2010 the Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix campaign alerted parents to emerging clinical research undertaken by Professor Ian Hickie at the Sydney University mind and brain institute that indicated that alcohol can cause damage to the developing adolescent brain. The campaign challenged parents to put aside any existing beliefs about introducing alcohol to their underage adolescents and to encourage them to delay their children’s introduction to alcohol for as long as possible. The campaign empowers parents with facts and tactics via the DrinkWise website. [4]

Drinking do it Properly (18-24 year old Campaign)

In 2014, DrinkWise Australia launched an Australian first campaign designed to influence young adults (18-24 years) to drink responsibly – by moderating the intensity and frequency of binge drinking occasions. The ‘Drinking – Do it Properly’ campaign aims to make the ongoing trend of drinking to get drunk less socially acceptable amongst young drinkers, and to encourage those already drinking in safe and moderate ways. The campaign was developed in response to the prevalence of poor drinking choices by young Australians aged 18–24 years. DrinkWise commissioned extensive quantitative and qualitative formative research as well as multiple rounds of concept testing research to ensure the campaign cut through with young adults.[5]

Commissioned Research

Where a knowledge gap has existed DrinkWise Australia has commissioned research to ensure that its activities are underpinned by a sound evidence base:

[1] From Ideal to Reality: Cultural contradictions and young people’s drinking. The first stage of this project resulted in a literature review that collected a range of data that addressed the topic and was published in 2008. This Report is the result of qualitative research undertaken by NCETA that examined the socio-cultural influences on 14 to 24 year old Australian’s drinking and the analysis provides useful insights to better understand these influences.

[2] Drinking patterns in Australia, 2001-2007. The Report is based on an analysis of data from the 2001, 2004 and 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Surveys, and looks at trends in alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, alcohol beverage of choice, under-age drinking and factors associated with risky drinking populations.

[3] The influence of parents and siblings on children’s and adolescents’ alcohol use: a critical review of the literature. A consortium consisting of Monash, Newcastle and La Trobe Universities undertook this review to document and critique the existing evidence (available up to 2009) concerning the role of parents’ and older sibling’s behaviours, attitudes and use of alcohol in influencing their children’s/siblings’ attitudes, behaviour and use of alcohol, within the broader social environment.

[4] Alcohol and the Teenage Brain: Safest to keep them apart. Professor Ian Hickie, Executive Director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney reviewed the evidence regarding alcohol and the teenage brain and identified that alcohol can disrupt brain development during the critical phase of growth that occurs from around 12–13 years of age until our early twenties.

[5] What a Great Night’; The Cultural Drivers and Drinking Practices among 14-24 year old Australians. A consortium consisting of Monash and Deakin Universities undertook this research project to identify the most salient cultural drivers of low risk and risky alcohol consumption by Victorian youth, located in inner and outer suburban settings plus provincial and rural locations in Victoria.

[6] Expressions of Drunkenness (400 Rabbits). This book is the 10th in a scholarly series on alcohol in society published by ICAP, and provides an understanding of the historical origins of drunkenness; the biological explanations of intoxication; the language used to define this phenomenon; and modern day drinking patterns.

[7] Sustaining a Reduction of Alcohol Related Harms in the Licensed Environment: A Practical Experiment to Generate New Evidence. This project was undertaken to develop a comprehensive prevention model that was capable of reducing alcohol-related violence and aggression, and a scientifically defensible research design to test the model in a variety of licensed environments in Australia and New Zealand.


According to critics,[8][9][10] Drinkwise is the Australian version of the global alcohol industry supported social aspects/ public relations organisations, following the example of the tobacco industry.[11] Fifty-eight scientists and health experts expressed their opposition to Drinkwise by signing a letter stating that they will not seek or accept funding from them, and called on other researchers and community agencies to consider their own positions.[12] These researchers strongly oppose the perceived conflict of interest between a body that is linked to an industry that profits from the consumption of alcohol, and that also purports to funds research aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm. Upon publication of this letter, Drinkwise chair, Trish Worth, wrote to the authors accusing them of defamation.

See also



  1. Borlagdan, J., Freeman, T., Duvnjak, A., Lunnay, B., Bywood, P.T., Roche, A.M. (2010). From Ideal to Reality: Cultural contradictions and young people’s drinking. National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University, Adelaide.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2010. Drinking patterns in Australia, 2001-2007. at. no. PHE 133. Canberra: AIHW.
  3. Ward, B., Snow, P., James, E., Griffith, J. 2010. The influence of parents and siblings on children’s and adolescents’ alcohol use: a critical review of the literature.
  4. Hickie, I.B., Whitwell, B.G. 2009. Alcohol and the Teenage Brain: Safest to keep them apart, Brain and Mind Research Institute Monograph 2009-2.
  5. Lindsay, J., Kelly, P., Harrison, L., Hickey, C., Advocat, J., Cormack, S. 2009. What a Great Night’; The Cultural Drivers and Drinking Practices among 14-24 year old Australians.
  6. International Centre for Alcohol Policies 2010. Expressions of Drunkenness (400 Rabbits) Edited by Anne Fox and Mike MacAvoy.
  7. McIlwain, G., Hommel, R. Griffith University 2009/3. Sustaining a Reduction of Alcohol Related Harms in the Licensed Environment: A Practical Experiment to Generate New Evidence.
  8. Miller, P.G., Kypri, K. (2009) Why we will not accept funding from Drinkwise. Drug and Alcohol Review; 28, 324–326
  9. Miller, P.G., Kypri, K., Chikritzhs, T.N., Skov, S.J., Rubin, G. (2009) Health experts reject industry-backed funding for alcohol research. Medical Journal of Australia; 190 (12): 713-714
  10. Melissa Sweet (24 August 2009). DrinkWise – making a splash but is it a bellyflop?. Crikey. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  11. Bond, L., Daube, M., & Chikritzhs, T. (2009). Access to Confidential Alcohol Industry Documents: From ‘Big Tobacco’ to ‘Big Booze’. AMJ 1(3), 1-26.
  12. Health experts reject industry-backed funding for alcohol research. Retrieved 22 April 2014.