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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

Dear

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).

Yours sincerely

The Hon. Trish Worth
Chair
DrinkWise Australia

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  1. ...] For instance, one of the lobby’s most vocal members, Mike Daube, has recently written an article (see Croakey) saying that differences between tobacco and alcohol are over-stated and that they are much [...

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