Are male or female Australian school students aged 12-17 years more likely to drink alcohol?

Australian male and female students aged 12-17 years are equally likely to have drunk alcohol in the past year, past month and past week.

25% of male and 27% of female Australian school students aged 12-17 years have never consumed alcohol. Of those who have, 51% of males and 50% of females had consumed alcohol in the past year, 30% of males and 29% of females had consumed in the past month, 18% of males and 16% of females had consumed in the past week.

Source: Cancer Council Victoria (2012). Australian secondary school students' use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2011.

Please note: Percentages do not tally to 100% as drinking categories (past week, past month, & past year) are not mutually exclusive.

The proportion of school students who have consumed alcohol differs from the proportion of young people in the general population who have consumed alcohol (see FAQ Are male or female Australians aged 12-17 years more likely to drink alcohol?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on any alcohol use (even one drink), and the weekly/monthly/yearly categories are not mutually exclusive. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on usual drinking frequency during the past 12 months, and the categories are mutually exclusive.

In addition, the proportion of school students who have ‘never consumed’ alcohol differs from the proportion of ‘abstainers’ among young people in the general population. In the school students’ survey (ASSAD), those who have never consumed alcohol are determined by the question: “Have you ever had even a part of an alcoholic drink (including a few sips)?”.  By contrast, in the general population survey (NDSHS), abstainers are determined by the questions: “Have you ever tried alcohol?”, “Have you ever had a full serve of alcohol?” and “Have you had an alcohol drink of any kind in the last 12 months?”.