IF YOU think alcohol is harmless, spare a thought for the estimated 18,500 Gympie and the Wide Bay residents who experienced physical abuse in alcohol-related incidents in the past 12 months.
More than 8% of people aged 14 and over in our community are at risk every year from alcohol-related physical abuse, a Life Education spokesman said this week.
The alarming statistics were taken from the 2010 Drug Household Survey, which suggests alcohol-related violence in Australia has almost doubled in three years.
The survey shows 8.1% of respondents aged 14 and over had claimed to have been physically abused by someone under the influence of alcohol in the 12 months leading up to the survey, compared with 4.5% of respondents in the 2007 survey.
Life Education Queensland CEO Michael Fawsitt says the upward trend must be reversed to save the next generation.
He has called on Queenslanders to join their Ocsober fundraising campaign by losing the booze for the month of October to raise funds for vital drug and alcohol education in schools.
"We estimate that around 285,000 Queenslanders have suffered some sort of physical abuse related to alcohol in the last 12 months," Mr Fawsitt said.
"Behind every statistic, there's a cost to individuals, to families and to communities.
"Whether it's intentional or not, we're inflicting so much pain on people we love."
The survey also indicates 25% of people aged 14 and over were victims of verbal abuse, and nearly 15% were put in fear.
"Alcohol itself isn't the problem - it's the way it's consumed," Mr Fawsitt said.
"In particular, it's our growing binge drinking culture that we're most concerned about."
Mr Fawsitt says that it was encouraging the number of Queenslanders signing up to Ocsober had increased by more than 20% this year. He hopes more are yet to sign up.
Ocsober challenges adults to cut out alcohol for a month to raise funds for drug and health education in schools.
Life Education is the State's largest provider of drug and health education programs to children.
In the Wide Bay area, more than 1500 children participate in the program each year.
Life Education hopes to raise enough money through Ocsober to extend its program, particularly to vulnerable and at-risk children.
To register for the Ocsober challenge, go to http://www.ocsober.com.au.