Heavy drinking 'more prevalent in Australia'

THE toxic relationship between young Australians and alcohol is taking up more police time and causing bigger health problems than ever before, a NSW parliamentary inquiry has heard.

The NSW Police Association believes young people are in "the front line" of exposure to the risks of heavy drinking which it says is more prevalent in Australia than most parts of the world.

In its submission to the panel charged with reviewing strategies to reduce alcohol abuse in young people, the police association suggested key areas where the government could help police and local support groups tackle the problem.

The submission reflected on the effects of drinking in children as young as 12 to young adults on the pub and club scene.

According to DrinkWise Australia statistic, binge drinkers are getting younger.

The average age a teenager starts drinking is 15.5 years and more than a quarter of 14-19-year-olds are putting themselves at risk of alcohol related harm at least once a month.

Stringent bans introduced in Sydney's Kings Cross following the bashing-death of teenager Thomas Kelly were suggested as a starting point for towns across NSW to curb alcohol-related violence.

Changes to alcohol availability, pricing and promotion were at the top of the list.

The Police Association also proposed that opening hours for all pubs and clubs be bought back to 3am with an imposed lock-out of 1am and that the sale of shots and mixed drinks with an alcohol volume of more than five percent be banned from 10pm.

More than 40 submissions have been received.

The next public hearing will be held on May 6.

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