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Perth council takes action on teen drinking. -

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A new real-life movie is raising awareness about teen binge drinking culture.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: As we all know, binge drinking's a major problem in Australia and
authorities really want to prevent teenagers developing that habit early. A Perth local council
thinks it may have found a way to get the anti-binge drinking message across more effectively.
Together with some local students, it's made a feature film about a teen party gone wrong, as
Danielle Parry reports.

POLICE HELICOPTER VIDEO: Now we've got people running down the street there; they're smashing cars
and just running amuck down there.

DANIELLE PARRY, REPORTER: These pictures from a police helicopter show an ugly seen that's becoming
all too common across Australia. More than 100 drunken teenagers rampaging through suburban streets
south of Perth after a house party gone wild.

Those on the frontline of the war on binge drinking in the west say the toll is enormous.

GARY GEELHOED, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: We see an increasing number of young people coming in under the
influence of alcohol, they're involved in assaults, motor vehicle accidents and so on. Liver
disease in young people now that generally we wouldn't see until a couple of decades later in 40
and 50 year olds.

JIM MIGRO, WA POLICE: Across Australia, alcohol is responsible for using up a quarter of all police
budgets Australia-wide. I think this is an issue for everybody, not just for police.

DANIELLE PARRY: Frustrated authorities hope this could be the circuit-breaker they're looking for.
The gathering is a professional short film commissioned by a Perth local council. It paints a
confronting picture of a teen party culture and is aimed at giving children and their parents
strategies for handling the dangers of drinking.

JANET AMAREGO, CITY OF MELVILLE COUNCIL: It's a teen party that's spirals out of control with an
abundance of alcohol and gatecrashers with devastating consequences on the teens and their families
and friends.

NICK HEYDON, HEYDON FILMS: Hundreds of people arrive, the house is trashed, there's a sexual
assault and it just ends up dying from alcohol poisoning.

DANIELLE PARRY: The language is colourful, the behaviour disturbing and parents may be shocked, but
this fictional teen party is as much real life as it is movie script.

NICK HEYDON: This age group is a very cynical age group. They've been bombarded with marketing
since they were very young and they can smell a rat a mile off. We had to be absolutely sincere in
our messaging.

JANET AMAREGO: We wanted to make it as realistic as possible and we workshopped the scripts with
150 young people to basically make sure that the language, the characters, the scenarios were as
credible as possible.

DANIELLE PARRY: It was inspired by the real-life party experience of Emily Amarego, the daughter of
the council officer who made the film. Emily Amarego went to a party when she was a young teen and
discovered she didn't have the skills to cope when a friend got alcohol poisoning.

EMILY AMAREGO: Yeah, she could have quite easily died and we had no idea, just because people don't
tell you, you know, when it gets to that point, what do you do?

DANIELLE PARRY: These Year 12s at Melville Senior High School in suburban Perth are being shown the
film inside the classroom. Despite their teacher's reservation, the 16 and 17 year olds are taking
the graphic content in their stride.

TEACHER: As a parent, I just felt sick. Is that really the type of thing that happens? And that's
what I want to know from you, I s'pose: is that what happens or are we going over the top, was
there too much?

DANIELLE PARRY: The students think younger teenagers should also see the film before they reach
party-going age, and they instantly recognise the events in the film as real.

STUDENT: I thought it was pretty good and it gave a pretty good example of, like, an open house
party. Yeah, like, when people just rock up to parties, they get pretty crazy.

STUDENT II: I have been at one party and there's been a similar situation. But, yeah, they do
happen. They do happen and people need to be aware of it.

DANIELLE PARRY: The makers of 'The Gathering' hope it will succeed where TV commercials and
education campaigns have failed, and if the conversation in this class is anything to go by, they
may have struck a winning formula.

STUDENT II: Show your students, make them aware, show them that this thing - this sort of thing, it
does happen, and it can turn really ugly really quickly.

JIM MIGRO: I think it will get through to them. This could well be the type of tool that's needed
around Australia for us to actually change the drinking culture of young people.

LEIGH SALES: Danielle Parry reporting.