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Children’s Commissioner supports alcohol-free fundraiser

21 February 2012

Media release

Children’s Commissioner supports alcohol-free fundraiser

Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills says his office is supporting this year's FebFast fundraiser because of the impact of alcohol on children.

Hundreds of people around New Zealand have stopped drinking alcohol for the month of February to raise money for four charities working with young people affected by drugs or alcohol.

FebFast is hosted by the New Zealand Drug Foundation, and accepts donations throughout February and into March. More information is available at

Dr Wills says a team from his office is taking part in FebFast, and they’re happy to support the event. As a paediatrician caring for children with severe behaviour disturbance, he says he often sees the effects of alcohol on children.

“Some have foetal alcohol syndrome, others are neglected by parents who abuse alcohol, and a few are seriously injured,” he says. “Emergency departments are filled on weekend and week nights by people with alcohol-related injuries due to assault and motor vehicle accidents. This carnage, and the human toll created, is unnecessary and preventable.

“Change must begin with us. That’s why I'm so proud of my team enrolled in FebFast and pleased to be a part of it.”

So far Dr Wills says he has stayed ‘dry’ for both a 21st and 90th birthday party, dinner with friends and a special Valentine’s Day dinner with his wife.

“And you know what? I don't miss it. I enjoy the events just as much and I like waking up with a clear head. I haven't had to worry about driving and I think my belt’s a little looser, but that might just be wishful thinking.

“I won't stop drinking entirely when February’s over because it’s hard to replace a cold beer after mowing the lawns, but I'll drink less often.”

FebFast Coordinator Catherine Milburn says support from organisations such as the Office of the Children’s Commissioner is an important part of FebFast.

“FebFast is all about the community giving back to community organisations, giving others less fortunate than ourselves a helping hand,” she says. “It’s fantastic to have the support of Dr Wills and the team in his office.”

The recipients of this year’s FebFast funding are: Evolve (Wellington), Rainbow Youth (Auckland), CareNZ (Waikato), and the ADHD Association (national).


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