Student union targets alcohol and drug misuse

By CHARLEE HAWKES

The Monash University Student Union is targeting alcohol misuse at student events through an education campaign and support services.

The action comes after a landmark report into sexual harassment and assault in Australian universities identified alcohol as a major cause of attacks on campus.

An Australian Human Rights Commission report on sexual harassment and assault in universities found 21 per cent of students at Monash University were sexually harassed last year on campus.

The Monash University Student Union at Caulfield campus (MONSU) will target excessive alcohol consumption after a report identified alcohol as a contributing factor to sexual assault and harassment.

MONSU vice-president Carlo Spada Tello.

MONSU vice-president Carlo Spada Tello said the union could tackle the problem by educating students on appropriate behaviour and providing support to victims. 

“MONSU is providing a range of support services to ensure students’ experience of university is a positive one, but there is still a long way to go,” Mr Spada Tello said.

Monash University is also incorporating an online course – Respectful and Responsible: Making a Safer Community at Monash – into the curriculum for students, which includes information on the safe use of alcohol and drugs. 

“It’s primarily about students looking out for each other and themselves”, emphasising the determination of MONSU to create a positive social environment for students at Monash,” Mr Spada Tello said.

Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation national policy manager Geoff Munro said young people “seem to feel the need to get madly drunk in order to celebrate something good”. 

“We’d like to see a non-binge alcohol drinking culture in the future,” Mr Munro said. 

Mr Munro said social determinants such as relationships and location of consumption needs to be further investigated in order to solve problematic alcohol consumption. 

“There’s a role for all of us in learning how to do things differently,” Mr Munro said.