AMount Gambier City Council and Grant District Council Planet Youth Network Group has been established, which will help educate parents about permissive attitudes regarding teenagers using alcohol.
Substance Misuse Limestone Coast (SMLC) is coordinating the Planet Youth trial in the Limestone Coast and they are federally-funded.
The agencies involved include both councils, Ruby’s, Community Justice Centre, SAPOL, Baptist Care, SMLC, Aboriginal Community Connect and New Roads.
Substance Misuse Limestone Coast project officer Sophie Bourchier and counsellor and case manager Lynne Kain said the group was a regional response for the Limestone Coast and was about prevention and early intervention.
Ms Bourchier said the Planet Youth Network Group applied for funding through the Alcohol and Drug Foundation and Wellbeing SA to start an education program for parents.
She said data from a Planet Youth survey for Year 10 students showed there was an increasing permissive culture around alcohol use in young people and the ages of people drinking alcohol were getting younger.
“We want to educate parents that it’s not okay to be permissive around alcohol use in young people and to educate them why, because we think there’s not a lot of knowledge out there,” Ms Bourchier said.
“We think that parents do not really know the harms associated with adolescent alcohol use or information about the adolescent developing brain and what alcohol can do to that.
“If alcohol is something that is a constant in their life or habitually or every month it will definitely change our people’s thought process on what they want to do.
“We have been talking to a Planet Youth team in Iceland about what we can do as a public health campaign, so we’re applying for funding to get some signage out to sporting arenas.”
Ms Bourchier said young people who drank alcohol were more likely to be victims of crime, be involved in fights, sexual abuse, car crashes, risk-taking behaviours and taking other drugs.
“The longer you can delay the onset of alcohol use, the more likely that kids are going to have better outcomes in their study, relationships, work, dreams, life goals,” she said.
Ms Bourchier said the group aimed to increase protective factors for young people and decrease risk factors.
“We know that parents are protective, parents and caregivers and significant adults are protective factors, but they appear to also be risk factors,” she said.
“So it’s about targeting those people and not putting any blame.”
“It’s about empowering them too, to actually step up because I know sometimes parents are afraid to be parents and take that harder line sometimes,” Ms Kain said.
“So it’s about empowering them as well to be able to make those decisions for those young people.”