Prior to 2009, in Australia, official advice suggested that alcohol use was a 'normal' part of adolescent development, and that supervised alcohol consumption could reduce potential harm. Therefore, parents may choose to allow their underage teens to drink at home to help young people learn responsible drinking practices. However, with mounting evidence about the numerous risks of underage alcohol use, current National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines suggest delaying alcohol use until at least the age of 18.

This snapshot uses data from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) to answer three main research questions:

  1. How many Australian teens are allowed to drink at home?
  2. Does permission to drink at home result in teens drinking more and a greater risk of experiencing alcohol-related harm?
  3. Which teens are more likely to be allowed to drink at home?

Key findings:

  • In 2016, around 28% of teens aged 16-17 were allowed to drink alcohol at home. Approximately 18% of teens of this age were permitted to take alcohol to parties or social events.
  • Overall, alcohol use was significantly more common among 16-17 year olds who were permitted to drink at home, compared to those not allowed to drink at home. Around three-quarters (77%) of teens with permission to drink at home had drunk alcohol in the past month, compared to 63% of teens without permission.
  • Teens allowed to drink at home were more likely to have experienced alcohol-related harm compared to those without permission (23% vs 17%, respectively).
  • More frequent parental alcohol consumption was associated with a greater likelihood of teens being allowed to drink at home.
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Growing Up in Australia Snapshot Series – Issue 2