Calls have been made in Australia to raise the legal drinking age to 19 years in an attempt to curb binge drinking by school students.
As the schoolies week unfolds across the country, authorities are worried what is in store for them. For it is the time of the year when school leavers celebrate the end of their grueling schooling routine. They hit the bottle in a big way and run riot.
Only earlier this week the Queensland unit of the Australian Medical Association had issued a statement calling upon the youth to be restrained and counseling them against unprotected sex.
Now New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Sipione has given a call to raise the legal age for drinking, and many experts have responded readily endorsing the suggestion.
They include leading mental health advocate Ian Hickie from the University of Sydney, alcohol researcher and former head of VicHealth Rob Moodie and Australian National Council on Drugs chairman John Herron.
But school leavers retaliate saying it is the time of the year to simply freak out. They had slogged over many years, and so it is time for some "harmless fun."
If anything, banning the schoolies from drinking would only drive the whole thing underground, perhaps giving rise to more violence than has been the case so far, students argue.
The legal age to purchase alcohol in Australia is 18. You will have to be over 18 to enter a nightclub.
If you are in a public bar, you can drink at 16 if someone over the age of 18 is with you.
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon ruled out lifting the limit.
"It is not on our agenda," she told reporters.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has placed youth binge drinking on the agenda for a meeting with state premiers next month.