Map your steps - Supporting Teenagers
The key steps involved in working with parents and key influencers of teenagers are provided below as a useful starting point for developing your Community Action Plan activity. These steps provide an indicative guide; it is important to tailor your approach to your local community.
Engage community organisations and support them to take actions
Engage relevant community organisations who may have access to parents/influencers of teenagers and encourage them to take action to prevent alcohol and other drug-related harm amongst teenagers:
- Identify relevant community organisation who have access to parents and key influencers of teenagers in your community
- Establish key contacts/gatekeepers within those organisations to champion the issue within the organisation
- Discuss the importance of supporting teenagers
- Establish ‘what’s in it’ for the community organisation.
A whole-of-community approach to prevent alcohol and other drug-related harm among teenagers is recommended. This requires working with community partners to deliver multiple and mutually reinforcing activities. A parent/key influencer workshop may form part of the overall work being undertaken by your LDAT to achieve its objectives. One-off, isolated events are not effective at creating change.
Tips for engaging the community
- Identify community organisations that you may partner with. See Planning.
- Identify key contacts and/or gatekeepers. Find a named person in the organisation who can act as a champion and invest time into this relationship. A champion may be in a leadership role, have an influential personality, or be a proactive person who is passionate about preventing alcohol and other drug related harms. For example, key contacts may include local parents, sports coaches, secondary school teachers, or librarians. Meet face-to-face if you can, rather than just sending out information via email.
- Discuss the importance of supporting teenagers. Promote the benefits to children, parents, families, and the broader community. Show them how this aligns with their core business and values.
- Answer the question ‘What’s in it for me?’ by finding the hook for them. For example, are they motivated to deliver alcohol and other drug activities due to existing problems (e.g. drug use, poor attendance) or a sense of community benefit?
Link parents and key influencers to quality information and resources
Through the support of these community organisations link parents/influencers to quality information and resources via local schools, at community events, via local media and through a series of workshops:
It is important that parents have access to quality information and resources about alcohol and other drugs to support their own understanding and to ensure they can provide accurate and positive support to their teenager. LDATs have a role in linking parents of teenagers and key influencers with quality information and resources, and ensuring consistency in how these are communicated. If the messages a young person receives about alcohol and other drugs from their school, family and community are consistent they are more likely to accept the advice being given.
A number of reputable organisations produce evidence-informed information on alcohol and other drugs. Most information is available free-of charge, both online and in printed form.
LDATs may find it beneficial to consult with local youth agencies and health service providers, as they may have additional resources. LDATs may distribute information to parents in a number of ways, including for example:
- Community events (e.g. secondary school open days, community festival)
- Local media (e.g. local paper, radio station)
- Partnerships and networks (e.g. inclusion in partner newsletters, speaker at workplace events).
A critical role of LDATs is to engage with their community to put AOD issues on the public agenda and to motivate them to take action.
Deliver workshops for parents and key influencers
Work with your community partners and a suitable expert to deliver workshops for parents and
LDATs should not deliver workshops unless the organisations in their team have the appropriate expertise. In the event that they don’t, the primary role of LDATs should be to support ‘suitably qualified’ community organisations to deliver workshops for parents and key influencers.
Workshops may address one or more of the following content areas:
- Alcohol and drug facts
- Safe partying
- Identifying drug use
- Different factors that influence teenagers (e.g. role modelling responsible drinking, the influence of friends, and the impact of alcohol advertising)
It is important that the workshops are based on current evidence. The ADF provides evidence informed information and recommends that LDATs
use this content when delivering workshops in their community.
LDATs may also wish to use the resources developed by other organisations including:
- Raising Children Network
- Parenting Strategies
- Positive Choices
- Or youth specialist organisations such as YoDAA yodaa.org.au or headspace.
The workshop format can be flexible and tailored to meet the needs and preferences of your community.
Tips for choosing the workshop venue
Choosing the right venue is another important consideration. Consider the following when selecting the location for your workshop:
- What is the most appropriate venue for local parents?
- What is the venue capacity? (How many people are attending?)
- What are the costs associated?
- Is there easy access for all (e.g. available parking, close to public transport, wheelchair access)?
- How will the room be set up? (Does there need to be room for people to move around?)
- Do you need to provide chairs, tables, catering?
Tips for promoting the workshop
Consider how you will spread the word in your community to promote the workshop and attract parents and key influencers. This might include one or more of the following:
- Local papers
- Radio stations
- Community noticeboards
- School newsletters
- Social media
- Sporting clubs
- Partner organisations
- Local community champions.
When promoting the workshop, include information that informs parents and key influencers of the purpose of the workshop, and how they can register to attend.
Tips for running the workshop
Good practices for running a workshop include:
- Welcoming people, introducing yourself and other facilitators, an Acknowledgment of Country, and briefly explaining the work of the LDAT
- Providing an overview and purpose of your meeting. It is important to always keep in mind the outcome – and how you are helping the group reach it
- Outlining the workshop’s approach as intending to be respectful – that collectively participants want to help reduce the harms associated with alcohol and other drugs for their children i.e. not judging people for their views or actions. You may want to establish some ground rules
- Stating that the information provided will be factual and evidence-informed where available
- Sharing anything you have gleaned from previous discussions in the community e.g. the level of community interest in having the LDAT host a workshop, or areas of concern raised by parents. Validate this with the group
- Encouraging active participation and allow for problem solving and/or skill acquisition. Involve the group in all aspects of the workshop
- Give people an opportunity to reflect on their strengths and challenges
- Invite questions, group discussion, and debate. Encourage attendees to learn from each other – if a problem is presented, allow parents the opportunity to offer possible strategies rather than giving them the answer
- Provide some information about where they can get help if needed
- Summarise your workshop and request feedback from the group. Have some simple tools to measure the success of your events. For example, a short survey provides an opportunity for honest feedback/evaluation
- Reflect on what could be improved on or helpful for next time.