The Australian government is helping to launch an advertising campaign designed to influence generational change towards responsible consumption of alcohol. The campaign, which has been created by lobby group DrinkWise, is though to be the first of its kind.

Aimed at making 'drinking to get drunk' socially unacceptable for the next generation of potential drinkers, the campaign has been developed in response to an increased prevalence in risky drinking behaviours by Australians, a statement said.

Jointly funded by DrinkWise Australia and the Australian Government's Department of Health and Ageing, the campaign is focused on influencing people's attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol.

The campaign also aims to reverse the trend of teenagers drinking at an earlier age.

DrinkWise said that, over the past five decades, the average age of initiation to alcohol has dropped from 19 to 15.5 years and studies show that the early onset of drinking is more likely to result in risky adult drinking behaviours in later life.

DrinkWise chairman, Trish Worth, said: "Australian attitudes to risky drinking, including a culture which accepts heavy drinking as a 'rite of passage' for young people, needs to change. A long-term commitment is required not only from individuals but from society as a whole, including the alcohol industry, health professionals, the media and community organisations such as sporting clubs and schools.

"This phase of the campaign empowers and informs parents to ensure that children form their attitudes toward drinking from a young age. The long term aim is to make 'drinking to get drunk' socially unacceptable.

"DrinkWise wants to spark a national conversation and debate about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable drinking behaviour. The glorification of excessive drinking is a cultural trait we need to discourage."

DrinkWise Australia said it has initiated discussions with a number of organisations to help promote the responsible drinking message and provide education and information resources across the country.

Trish Worth added: "We recognise there are already many excellent community initiatives throughout Australia and we are looking at how best practices can be shared to ensure that activities are mutually supportive and achieve the greatest impact."

The campaign is officially launching in Sydney today (23 June) by Senator the Hon. Jan McLucas at an event attended by industry and community representatives including leaders from health, education, sporting, law enforcement and local government sectors.

From today, TV advertisements air for six months and a new website for parents goes live, forming part of a fully integrated programme of initiatives being conducted by DrinkWise.