The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.
TAJ, AL, MS, AS, KT, JM and CD conceived, designed the study and were involved in the design of the questionnaires. TAJ, AL, MS and JM have been involved in data acquisition. TAJ conducted statistical analyses and interpretation of results with contributions from MS, AS, CD and SJ. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Alcohol misuse imposes substantial harm on Indigenous Australians whose health status is poorer than non-Indigenous Australians. Although Indigenous youth are over represented in Indigenous alcohol harms, few interventions addressing alcohol-related harm among Indigenous youth have been evaluated. Given this paucity of evidence, a survey was designed to evaluate the effects of a whole-of-community, anti-binge drinking intervention for young people in an Indigenous community in far north Queensland, Australia.
A cross sectional, baseline-post intervention study assessed the impact of a two year anti-binge drinking intervention targeting young people (18–24 years). A survey was developed and implemented at baseline and again two-years post-intervention, administered by young local people employed as research assistants. Survey respondents were recruited through snowballing techniques. Survey items asked about respondents’ knowledge of binge drinking and standard drinks, involvement in alcohol-free social activities, frequency of short-term risky drinking (binge drinking), and mean alcohol expenditure during short-term risky drinking occasions.
The intervention was called Beat da Binge. Two major events and multiple minor activities each year were implemented, focusing on drinking education, alcohol-free community-wide social events, and youth-specific sporting and social activities to facilitate self-empowerment.
Beat da Binge was associated with a statistically significant 10 % reduction in the proportion of survey respondents who reported that they had engaged in an episode of short-term risky drinking, in the frequency of short-term risky drinking for all beverage types except wine (ranging from 4 % to 31 % reductions), in mean expenditure on alcohol during short-term risky drinking sessions ($6.25) and in the proportion of activities with family/friends that usually include alcohol (7 %). There were also statistically significant increases in awareness of binge drinking and standard drinks (28 % and 21 % respectively). In addition to alcohol-specific outcomes, there was a statistically significant 8 % increase in the proportions of respondents engaged in training as their main weekday activity, which was partly off-set by a 13 % reduction in those whose main weekday activity was family care or home-related tasks.
Reductions in the proportion of survey respondents who reported binge drinking, along with increases in awareness and involvement in alcohol-free social activities suggest the community-based intervention was effective. The potential impact of sample selection and self-reporting limitations on results need further investigation. There is an urgent need for Indigenous, community-driven public health programs that are well evaluated to both improve Indigenous health and the strength of the current evidence base to inform future community interventions.