Identify local alcohol and other drug issues

Identify and prioritise alcohol and other drug-related (AOD) issues in your community, gather information and develop an accurate picture.

What is community action on AOD?

Community action involves people who live, work and raise their families in a community coming together to respond to specific local problems, such as local drug-related issues.

Local needs

It is important to accurately identify community needs so your activities are focused on the most important issue.

If we don’t ask the right questions and gather appropriate information at the start, valuable time, effort and resources may be spent tackling a less important issue while a more important or urgent issue is overlooked.

Get started

Identifying local needs is an opportunity for a brainstorming session with key stakeholders, with all the ideas put up onto a whiteboard.

You can then consider whether you need more information, such as statistics about AOD use and harms in your area.

Identifying local needs is an opportunity for a brainstorming session with key stakeholders.

Is there a problem?

  • Have you asked your community through community consultation what they think the issues are?
  • Do you have enough facts, figures and other current information to make an informed decision on the issue?
  • How can you find out more about the issue?
  • Do you need to do any research or gather evidence?
  • What are the causes of the problem?
  • Who is the target group most affected by the issue?

Issues may include harm due to:

  • AOD use in pregnancy
  • Approach of parents/carers to parenting
  • Early experimental use of AOD
  • Risky drinking
  • Steroid use
  • Risky drinking
  • Drink driving
  • Steroid use
  • Pharmaceutical use
  • Poly-drug use (pharmaceutical and alcohol)

Gather information

A range of sources will help you to develop an accurate picture of what is happening in your community.

As you collect information you may find that some issues are not as problematic or widespread as you initially thought.

You may identify other issues affecting your community that you weren’t aware of, or your initial understanding of the AOD-related issues in the community may be confirmed.

The process of gathering information and local data will help you to establish the local community's needs.

AOD-related issue or issues you identify will direct your activities. There is a lot of information available on AOD-related issues.

Sometimes high profile public incidents, controversy, and the political landscape can skew perceptions around the AOD.

Information quality and relevance

  • Is it clear where the information has come from?
  • Is it a reputable and authoritative source? For example, government reports, well known and credible organisations, academic books and publications.
  • Is the information factual and accurate?
  • Is the information current?
  • Is it publicly available?
  • Does it contain data specific to your local area?
  • Is information available from a variety of sources?
  • Are the different sources of information broadly consistent with other each?

Consult with your partners and community to find out what they understand to be the issues.

Sources of information

We live in an ‘information age’ and at times you may find that the amount of information on alcohol and other drug-related issues to be overwhelming or difficult to understand.

1 Partners and community

Statistics and research will provide part of the picture around what’s happening in your community. Consult with your partners and community to find out what they understand to be the issues. They may have their own data and insights that could help you identify the alcohol and other drug areas of focus for your activity.

The following sources of information are reliable and will provide you with a good starting point for gathering information.

2 Alcohol and Drug Foundation

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has a range of resources to provide you with access to the best available evidence-based research relating to the prevention and minimisation of alcohol and other drug-related harms.

3 Population health

  • Local government websites have statistics covering age, gender, disability, employment, household, country of birth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and sexual orientation living within their municipality.
  • The latest Census population data can provide further supplementary statistical information.
  • Community survey data from local governments based in your catchment may also have information relating to issues including alcohol for instance.

4 Other sources of information

  • Local councils - ask for the Planning, Recreation or Youth Officer
  • Primary Care Partnerships
  • TAFEs
  • Universities.

Identifying your target audience

It is important to understand which groups are affected by issues so your activity/ies can be tailored and targeted to those groups or sections of the community. For example, different groups will have certain attitudes, behaviours and demographics that need to be considered.

There are specific activities and approaches that are best suited to certain age groups. The AOD Lifecycle Planner indicates how AOD-related issues can impact people at different ages.

There are also activities that communities can tailor to meet the specific identified needs of priority populations, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Priority groups

The ADF has identified a number of priority groups to target. These population groups experience a higher risk of AOD-related issues and are a priority target audience for activities that prevent AOD-related harms.

Priority target groups include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • cultural and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Gender Diverse and Intersex (LGBTI) communities
  • young people
  • older people
  • regional, rural and remote communities.

Supporting resources