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The WAVE Project

Alcohol Advertising and Aquatic Environments: Building Evidence for Change


Little is known globally about alcogenic, aquatic environments; these are the places and spaces where young people recreate and in which alcohol advertising is common. This project is the first to explore the impact of outdoor and digital advertising in and around aquatic settings in Western Australia (WA). 


This Healthway funded research brings together a collaborative, multidisciplinary team to explore and quantify the impact of outdoor and digital advertising in and around aquatic settings. The focus of the project is young people aged 16 – 24 years in metro WA. 


Our findings will build the evidence regarding alcohol industry advertising tactics related to aquatic environments and inform public health advocacy efforts to reduce harms for young people produced by alcohol marketing in and around aquatic settings.


Each year the alcohol industry spends more than $100 million on alcohol advertising. Young people are regularly exposed to the pervasive effects of alcohol advertising which is located on television, bus shelters, as well as social media (e.g. TikTok, Instagram, Facebook). In combination these strategies mean young people can be influenced by alcohol-related messages anywhere, at any time.

Alcohol use in and around water is a risk factor for injuries, including fatal and non-fatal drowning. In Western Australia, young people are over-represented in water-related injury statistics and drowning deaths. Deaths occur at the beach, off rocks and in rivers whilst swimming and boating. Males are at increased risk, as they are more likely to swim alone, participate in high-risk recreational activities and consume alcohol in aquatic environments.


A key component of the project is collaborative ways of working. Our project governance will link researchers with young people and with community agencies and policymakers to ensure consideration of key concepts from a variety of perspectives and develop outcomes in a way that is flexible and relevant for our partners and end users.

The Project is led by the Alcohol Project Team (APT). The APT will work closely with stakeholders (the Research Collaborative). Young people (the Young People Advisory Group) are also vital to the success of our project.

Alcohol Project Team (APT)

The APT is composed of the chief investigators, all researchers across multiple WA and Australian universities:

Research collaborative (RC)

The RC is drawn from organisations working with young people across injury, drowning prevention, alcohol, and other drugs. The RC will provide strategic advice and feedback to the APT, support community relationship building and assist in the development of policy and advocacy-ready recommendations.










The project has six components:

  1. Community engaged project governance

    • Bringing together stakeholders whose focus is reducing harm from alcohol and injury prevention.

  2. Review

    • Scope literature on the impact of alcohol advertising and media exposure on adolescent alcohol use on young people.

  3. Mapping, geospatial analysis and environmental audit

    • Developing navigation maps, buffer zones and hot spots for identifying, recording and geo-coding outdoor alcohol advertising.

  4. Content analysis

    • Reviewing social media platforms used by young people to examine the depiction of alcohol products and their use in aquatic settings and compliance with alcohol advertising codes.

  5. Intercept survey insights

    • Collecting individual interviews to examine knowledge, attitude, beliefs and behaviour related to alcohol, alcohol advertising, sponsorship and participation in aquatic activities.

  6. Co-produced recommendations

    • Workshops to co-produce recommendations for future policy and practice.



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