While there is widespread recognition of the problem of alcohol abuse among adolescents, the causes for such behaviour remain contentious. In 2001, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey reported that approximately two-thirds of 14-17 year-olds used alcohol, with almost one-fifth admitting that they consumed alcohol on a regular basis, while the Australian Temperament Project (ATP) revealed that some 25 percent of 13-14 year-olds had used alcohol within the previous month. The project also reported a serious increase in the amount of adolescents using alcohol, with 60 percent of 15-16 year-olds, and 85 percent of 17-18 year-olds, having consumed alcohol within the past month (Smart, Vassallo, Sanson, Richardson, Dussuyer et al.2003).
The misuse of alcohol among adolescents is an increasingly serious problem. Although it has been shown that many teenagers do not suffer from alcohol-related problems (Bonomo, Coffey, Wolfe, et al., 2001), there exists a large sub-group who engage in dangerous levels of drinking. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW 2003), for example, reported that approximately 35 percent of 14-17 year-olds, and 64 percent of 18-24 year-olds, consume high-risk levels of alcohol. The incidence of dangerous drinking patterns was even higher among Australia's Indigenous youth (AIHW 2003).
Extensive literature searches were carried out through the Internet and through private subscriptions to on-line libraries, such as Questia. The information that was sought as part of the literature review included research or discussion concerning the causes or reasons for alcohol consumption among Australian adolescents (this included journal articles, reports, etc.), and research, evaluation or discussion that addresses recent interventions and initiatives to combat the misuse of alcohol among Australia's youth.
Various combinations of different search terms were employed to identify relevant literature. These included: Drinking behaviour; Alcohol use; Binge drinking; Australia and alcohol, Problems with alcohol Australian youth; Underage drinking; Alcohol-related harms; Alcohol education; Alcohol prevention; Alcohol statistics. Items that were found were subsequently checked for any additional references, following which a methodical web search was then undertaken in order to search for published material using search engines such as Google Scholar. Finally, another internet search was undertaken to find additional information through Australia's key websites. A list of the sites searched is provided in Appendix 1.
The majority of literature referred to in this paper was accessed from the internet. Almost all of the journal articles and books listed in the references were obtained through Questia (www.questia.com/). Where possible, web links have been provided to specific reports.
Several recent research projects were also accessed through the internet. The Australian Temperament Project (ATP), an important study that involved a representative sample of approximately 2400 families, was initiated in 1983. Children, who were between four and eight months old, were subsequently followed over a twenty year