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Alcohol and other Drug Prevention Starts At Home, School and in the Community

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Yalgoo Emu Cup - An Alcohol-Free Event
Do young people need to be educated about the risks of alcohol and other drugs and, if so, is it enough? School Drug Education Road Aware (SDERA), Local Drug Action Groups (LDAG) and Life Education WA are just three of the WA services that aim to prevent the harmful use of alcohol and other drugs among young people. All agree that parents and the community have a crucial role to play.

School Drug Education Road Aware  (SDERA)

SDERA - School Drug Education Road Aware LogoSchool Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA) is the WA State Government's primary drug and road safety strategy for children and young people.

"We support schools, early childhood services and agency staff through workshops and programs run across WA each year," says SDERA Manager Bruno Faletti. "We also have a wide range of resources that can be used by teachers, agencies and parents."

Seminars are also offered throughout the year for parents and professionals.

"Research clearly shows what common sense tells us - that while a 'one-off' presentation to students might have an immediate impact - true learning, understanding and lifetime values are gained by sustained education, both at school and at home," says Bruno.

SDERA's resources, when coupled with its seminars and workshops, give educators the knowledge and skills to run a full and comprehensive program for their students and to keep parents informed about what their kids are learning at school.

"We know from world-wide research that the health and social attitudes of adults are very strongly influenced by the learning opportunities and experiences they have as young people," says Bruno. "We're also more aware that there's a real connectedness between resilience building at a young age and improved academic outcomes and life success as an adult."

Resilience is the ability to bounce back.

Resilience education gives children and young people the opportunity to develop a range of social and emotional skills that can influence the way they make choices and decisions in drug-related situations.

"People who develop strong resilience attributes as kids are much less likely to be involved in problematic drug use as adults," says Bruno.

SDERA's workshops and seminars are free and cover resilience, drug education and road safety education, with resilience building an important foundation for the values and attitudes SDERA hopes to instil in young people.

"Our Drug Education workshops model best practice in drug education for young people," says Bruno. "Our workshops include lots of activities and teaching strategies that can be used to develop students' knowledge, skills, values and attitudes."

For more information, please email School Drug Education Road Aware via sdera.co@education.wa.edu.au or call one of its friendly team members on (08) 9402 6415.  Alternatively you can visit www.sdera.org.au

Local Drug Action Groups (LDAG) Inc.

Local Drug Action Groups Inc LogoLocal Drug Action Groups Inc. provides support to community members, as volunteers, to invest in the future health and safety of their own towns, school or community.

"It's all about that 'local', grassroots community action," says LDAG's Acting Executive Officer Jeni Henderson. "Without that, nothing changes."

LDAG supports its community-based branches to develop local responses for local issues.

"These people know the social and cultural context of alcohol and other drug-related harm and know what's been tried in the past."

Jeni believes that parents' own drinking behaviour is a significant factor in young people's style of alcohol consumption.

"We've constructed a story about alcohol and Australian culture and that's what we've taught to our kids," says Jeni. "We've taught it by the way we talk about alcohol, drink alcohol around kids... given children sips of alcohol and tied alcohol into family good times."

"If we want to reduce our children's risk of alcohol-related harm in the future, we need to change our own drinking habits now."

If you're looking for ways to encourage safe drinking in your community, Local Drug Action Groups may be able to help.

"Each group can apply for three grants per year worth $3000 each," says Jeni. "These grants can be used to support events with a focus on community, youth or family."

Each Local Drug Action Group can receive up to $10,000 per year for community events and to cover its running costs.

Local Drug Action Groups Harvey Branch Graduates of the
Community Leadership Youth Participation Program
"We invite communities to celebrate and have fun without relying on alcohol," says Jeni. "We're able to offer ideas, information and even small grants to help."

Local Drug Action Groups is also happy to speak to schools and other community groups or to attend events.

Other concerns for Local Drug Action Groups are alcohol advertising and a culture of 'alcohol with everything' - the use of alcohol in almost every social context, from local sporting events to family picnics.

Despite this, Local Drug Action Groups can see that efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm are paying off.

"On average across Australia, 50% of young people aged between 14 and 17 years old now abstain from alcohol - that's a huge drop," says Jeni. "But it's no time to be complacent because many of the school-age young people who are drinking are drinking well over the NHMRC recommended guidelines for adults."

LDAG Inc. is funded by the WA Drug and Alcohol Office as part of its commitment to a broad range of strategies to reduce and prevent alcohol and other drug-related harms across WA. Lotterywest grants have also supported rural and regional LDAG volunteers to attend training and has funded a diverse range of resources and equipment for LDAG branches.

For more information about Local Drug Action Groups and how you can become involved, please visit localdrugaction.com.au.

Life Education WA (Inc)

Life Education WA LogoLife Education WA Inc works with and through schools, consistent with the Principles of School Drug Education.

"We've developed a unique and innovative program - a combination of our skilled educators, the Mobile Learning Centre and our student and teacher resources," says Manager Bernie Foley. "We also use our mascot Healthy Harold."

Life Education WA's sessions are designed to be age-specific, with modules for pre-school, primary and secondary students.

The primary school program is made up of 13 modules focusing on a broad range of issues, from healthy lifestyles to cybersafety and responding to peer pressure.

"We also cover the use of medicines, the effects of smoking, and alcohol and related social issues," says Bernie.

Life Education WA's Mobile Learning Centre
The sessions for primary school children and their teachers are delivered on the school grounds in specially equipped Mobile Learning Centres by specialist drug and health educators.

Classroom teachers are provided with a manual before the Mobile Learning Centre (MLC) arrives at the school to support activities before and after the visit.

"Once the students have worked with our educators in the MLC, they're given workbooks to complete with their teachers in the following weeks," says Bernie.

Teachers that have access to internet Smart Boards are also given access codes to online programs.

"Teachers can provide up to 20 hours of education in the programs that they're working on," says Bernie.

For more information about Life Education WA, please visit www.lifeeducation.org.au

More Information About Alcohol and other Drug Prevention and Education

The Green Book Directory of Alcohol and other Drug and Mental Health Services in WA provides more information about prevention and education programs. 

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