The Kiama Stop Underage Drinking Project Team has been recognised with a Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award for Mission Excellence for their work to correct misperceptions about underage drinking in Kiama.

The team is based within ACU’s Centre for Health and Social Research (CHaSR) and consists of Kelly Andrews, Professor Sandra Jones, Josh Beard and Georgia Draper.

The Mission Excellence award recognizes individuals and teams who have demonstrated excellence in living the Mission of ACU, through areas of service, pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person and the common good.

The Kiama Stop Underage Drinking Project used a social marketing framework to intensively engage with the Kiama community, in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, to co-design an intervention targeting teens, parents and the broader community.

The project was funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and was a result of an ARC Future Fellowship awarded to Professor Sandra Jones.

The four-year project ran from 2012 to 2016, and included a two-year community intervention to change the perceived cultural acceptance of underage drinking.

Project Manager Kelly Andrews said the Kiama Stop Underage Drinking Project aligned with ACU’s Mission by the team using using their skills as researchers to work with the community in a way that recognised the skills, values and dignity of young people.

The intervention was designed to support adolescents and their parents in making safe decisions, with a focus on empowering families and communities.

While the majority of Australian teenagers do not drink alcohol, many teens and their parents believe most teens do drink, which influences their alcohol-related attitudes and behaviours.

There is a perception that underage drinking is normal, which results in teenagers feeling pressured to drink and parents feeling pressured to provide alcohol.

The project succeeded in correcting misperceptions and changing social norms around underage drinking to create a culture where it is okay for teens not to drink


Professor Sandra Jones and Ms Kelly Andrews

As a result of the project:

  • Adults were 40 per cent more likely to agree that it is unacceptable for a 16 year old to drink
  • Teens were 30 per cent more likely to disagree that a 15 year old should be allowed to drink alcohol under parental supervision
  • The age people think it is acceptable to have a sip or taste of alcohol increased from 15 and 11 months to 16 and 5 months.

The Kiama Stop Underage Drinking Project has also previously been recognised with a 2016 NSW Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) Award in the “Social Marketing and Social Change/Non-Profit Marketing” category.

Kelly said the team was very excited to be recognised with a Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award.

“It was a long project with the team investing a lot of themselves in this work, so it’s great to be recognised,” Kelly said.
“It’s also a wonderful acknowledgement of the way researchers and the community worked together and collaborated as a team.”

Page last updated on 07/04/2020

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