Do schools and alcohol mix? Australian parents' perspectives

Conor Gilligan, Therese Shaw, Shelley Beatty, Laura Thomas, Karen Louise Lombardi, Robyn Susanne Johnston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review



Alcohol use by adults at school events and alcohol promotion through school fundraising activities is common, but little is known about secondary school parents' attitudes towards these practices. Parental attitudes may influence principals' decision-making on this topic, particularly in jurisdictions where education department guidance is limited. This study explored parents' attitudes towards the consumption or promotion of alcohol in schools or at school events. 


Parents (n = 298) from five non-government secondary schools in Western Australia completed an online survey and provided responses relating to the promotion and availability of alcohol through their child's school. 


This sample of parents were evenly divided in support of alcohol consumption or support of schools as alcohol-free zones. Parents reporting higher alcohol consumption were more supportive of alcohol promotion and use through schools, and those with higher education supported use of alcohol for school fundraising. Almost 20% of parents were neutral on several measures indicating they could be swayed by social pressure. Engaging parents is an ongoing challenge for school principals and alcohol may play a part in engagement activities. The results from this small, exploratory study suggest even engaged parents may have very differing views on alcohol use in schools. 

Practical implications: 

Education departments are encouraged to explore these issues carefully and introduce changes incrementally to assist decision-making and minimise potential parent disengagement. 


This paper addresses a knowledge gap about parents' attitudes towards alcohol in secondary schools. These findings can support those involved in the development of school alcohol policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-245
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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