Alcohol use during aquatic activities; perspectives from Western Australian School Leavers

"This research is due to be conducted in November 2016 and if accepted, a modified abstract will be provided for inclusion in the conference program. Background: Every year, thousands of recently graduated high school leavers converge on designated locations around Australia to celebrate the end of their school exams and secondary school experience while preparing for the next stage of their lives. These Leavers events, while generally providing fun and safe opportunities for youth to party, combine alcohol consumption and aquatic activities to create risky environments. Understanding these contexts is important to ensuring the health and wellbeing of these young people. Method: This investigation will take the form of a multi-modal study, utilising both quantitative and qualitative research methods. A survey will be distributed to Leavers in Dunsborough WA, assessing the prevalence of alcohol consumption, quantifying amounts of liquor consumed and attitudes towards drinking in and around water. The results from this survey will be explored further through qualitative focus groups with Leavers post the event in a casual and welcoming environment. Implications: With Leavers events generally occurring around water and with an emphasis on aquatic activities, there is a strong need to better understand how much alcohol those attending Leavers festivals are consuming, the locations in which they drink and the activities they partake in whilst consuming alcohol. A better understanding of these variables will allow for more targeted health promotion with the potential to develop new and innovative methods to approach the population under interest. Keywords - Adolescent health - Addiction, drugs, alcohol, harm reduction - Health promotion - Behaviour change - Injury prevention Key Messages 1. Understanding the social processes that surround alcohol consumption and aquatic activity is important before attempting to change individual behaviour. 2. Existing health promotion campaigns require frequent assessments issue under analysis to ensure continued relevance. 3. The nascent field of research exploring aquatic activities partnered with alcohol must be investigated further to reduce the burden of health currently experienced in WA and Australia. "

Stephanie Enkel

The Royal Life Saving Society of WA

I graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Science (Honours in Population Health). My research aimed to better understand vaccine hesitant parents to prevent deviation from recommended immunisation schedules. Following work as a research assistant at UWA, I was employed as a Research Officer at the Royal Life Saving Society of Western Australia. Current projects include ongoing analysis of state drowning epidemiology, an observational inland waterway study, ascertainment of alcohol use during aquatic activities at Leavers festivals and industry and program evaluation. I am also a Master of Public Health/Master of International Public Health candidate at the University of New South Wales.