Alcohol and Drug 
Foundation leaders meet in region

Alcohol and Drug 
Foundation leaders meet in region

Substance Misuse Limestone Coast (SMLC), community leaders and representatives from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation met recently to discuss issues and opportunities related to alcohol and other drugs, identified through the third Planet Youth school survey undertaken by Limestone Coast students in 2023.

The survey data was analysed by the international group Planet Youth and plays an important role in helping the organisations understand the issues and opportunities associated with local teenager’s experiences around alcohol and other drugs.

The Australian version of the world-renowned alcohol and other drug prevention model has been piloted since 2019 through SMLC, as one of six trial sites across Australia.

The Limestone Coast survey findings, involving Year 10 students in six local council areas, were presented to community groups and stakeholders at a workshop in Mount Gambier.

Vaping and e-cigarette use was on the rise amongst Limestone Coast teenagers, in line with a national trend, with survey data showing that 1 in 10 teenagers surveyed used e-cigarettes daily.

“We knew, by anecdotal evidence, that this would be a worrisome statistic and we will also continue to address this in the community action plan,” SMLC project manager Sophie Bourchier said.

“The survey data reflects that young people who have reduced risk factors are less likely to try alcohol, e-cigarettes, and other drugs such as cannabis.”

Ms Bourchier said the data collected provides valuable insight into the alcohol and other drug experiences of local youth, as well as opportunities for SMLC and the local Planet Youth Network to set directions for future alcohol and other drug harm prevention and reduction activities.

“The workshop was a fantastic opportunity to share and discuss the findings from the 2023 school survey,” she said.

“Now the community can begin to plan action to increase protective factors around young people and reduce the risk factors that play a part in alcohol and other drug use for young people.

“Over the last five years of the local Planet Youth surveys, SMLC has worked to develop strong network groups within communities to develop action plans to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors regarding alcohol and other drug use amongst teenagers.

“Strong protective factors include: parental monitoring, getting eight hours sleep as a minimum, social connections, a healthy lifestyle, and being involved in sporting groups.

“However, some protective factors can also be risk factors, and we see that in some council areas, particularly those Year 10s who play team sport, the data shows they are more likely to get drunk at home or at the home of others.

“Although there has been a drop in the data of those drinking at home compared to the 2021 survey, the numbers are still very high, and we know there is a permissive culture in some communities that contributes to these activities, and the action plan will continue to address this.

“Plans on what that will look like are currently under way.”

The new survey follows SMLC’s successful regional sporting club campaign in 2023, which involved 26 clubs across the Limestone Coast displaying signage discouraging parental supply of alcohol to young people.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Head of Evidence and Innovation, Craig Martin, who presented at the forum, said locally led alcohol and other drug harm prevention initiatives play a powerful role in building and maintaining healthy communities.

“Community-led prevention is an important part of a comprehensive approach to minimising the harmful impact of alcohol and other drugs, particularly among young people,” Mr. Martin said.

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