DrinkWise – making a splash but is it a bellyflop?
DrinkWise, an organisation established by the alcohol industry to promote a “safer drinking culture”, is in the news today over its release of a new education program about teenage drinking.
But probably not for the reasons it would like.
Professor Simon Chapman (a regular Crikey/Croakey contributor) is in the Sydney Morning Herald, calling it: ”classic fox-in-charge-of the-chicken-coop stuff” – and he’s also online at ABC here. And the Public Health Association’s president Professor Mike Daube has just put out a statement questioning the credibility and independence of the organisation.
Their comments follow this recent Crikey piece, from the University of Queensland’s Wayne Hall, raising concerns about a warning letter that DrinkWise sent earlier this year to researchers who raised concerns about the organisation’s independence. Will another such letter be fired off to Chapman, Daube and any others who raise concerns about the latest campaign?
Meanwhile, Wayne Hall’s piece appears to have prompted a Crikey reader (who has chosen to remain anonymous) to send in a copy of the letter that DrinkWise chair, Trish Worth, sent to some researchers. It follows below:
Thursday 28 May, 2009
ABN 46 112 783 114
DrinkWise Australia Ltd Tel: 61 3 99354700
Level 1, 34 Queen Street Fax: 61 3 99354777
Melbourne VIC 3000 www.drinkwise.com.au
I‘m writing to you in regard to the Peter Miller et al letter published in the May 11
online edition of the Medical Journal of Australia for which you were a signatory.
I was very disappointed in this letter with its incorrect claims and do hope that you saw my response in the May 25 edition of the journal. I have attached a copy for your information.
Given that facts in the Miller letter are wrong and lack supporting evidence, I hope you will understand that some of my Board members feel they have been defamed. I am also concerned about the letter’s impact on the highly regarded academics and leading universities who have worked in partnership with DrinkWise on seminal research in alcohol reform over the past three and a half years. Their work has been conducted in an ethical and robust manner.
I trust that this information is of assistance to you and that you re-consider your stance in the light of the full facts. Indeed, if you would like to discuss the matter or have a detailed briefing on DrinkWise’s activities, please feel free to contact me on my mobile – (blacked out by Croakey).
The Hon. Trish Worth