The key steps involved in supporting schools to deliver alcohol and other drug education are provided below. This is a useful starting point for developing your Community Action Plan and informing your approach.

Please note though that these steps only provide an indicative guide and that it is important to tailor your approach to your local community:

1. Engaging schools

2. Providing evidence around local needs

3. Linking schools to quality programs

4. Supporting schools with communication

Tips for engaging schools

  • Locate existing schools.
  • Find a person in the school who can act as a champion and invest time into this relationship. A champion may be in leadership role, have an influential personality, or be a proactive person who is engaged or interested in health education. For example, key contacts may include principals, teachers, school nurses, health and wellbeing coordinators, student counsellors, or administrative staff. Meet face-to-face if you can, rather than just sending out information via email.
  • When discussing AOD education with a school/s, promote the benefits to students, families, the school and broader community.
  • Learn how AOD education fits within their existing curriculum and how an LDAT may work with the school to support the delivery of the program or assist in external engagement; i.e. parent or carer information session.
  • Be aware of the enablers and barriers to engaging schools in AOD education, as presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Enablers and barriers to delivering AOD education in schools

Enablers • Australian Government schools are required to deliver drug and alcohol education
• Drug and alcohol education fits within existing school curriculum, including health and wellbeing.
• AOD education has benefits for individual students, families, the school and the broader community.
Barriers • School teachers are time-poor with multiple competing demands.
• The school curriculum is full with little room for flexibility and additions.
• The school may be concerned about the potential for parent backlash if the AOD education is poorly communicated or delivered.See 3e Supporting schools with communication.

Providing evidence around local needs

Local Drug Action Teams can be a resource for local primary and secondary schools.

  • LDATs can help provide schools with access to alcohol and drug resources and evidence around local needs, and link them with local initiatives or networks. Providing evidence around local needs is important so that the education is focused on the most important issue.
  • LDATs can assist schools by collating a list of local services that may offer further support for schools such as engaging with mental health education providers (Headspace / Beyond Blue), parent support groups or local youth groups.

Linking schools to quality programs

A key role of Local Drug Action Team may be to help link schools to quality AOD education programs. This may include:

  • Existing education programs, such as CLIMATE schools
  • Expert guest speakers, sourced from local networks or peak bodies (review What works Table 1 above for more information on appropriate experts)
  • Accurate information and related materials, such as school AOD policy templates. These can be found on each states Education Department websites or click here for more information.
  • Identifying training opportunities for teachers
  • Upskilling opportunities for parents, such as The Other Talk

Supporting schools with communication

Communication around AOD education is important. If done poorly, it may lead to parents, students and the community being misinformed about the purpose, content and outcomes/benefits of the education.

Communication around AOD education is important. If done poorly, it may lead to parents, students and the community being misinformed about the purpose, content and outcomes/benefits of the education.

Local Drug Action Teams have a role in supporting schools to involve parents in AOD education. Some strategies that schools and parents can employ to improve communication between parents and school staff include:

  • Ensuring that office staff are welcoming to parents
  • Have students invite their parents to school events by writing personal invitations
  • Mail school newsletters, invitations and important information directly to parents
  • Develop a list of parents’ email addresses. (Ensure that you meet confidentiality requirements by only using ‘Bcc’ when emailing out invitations, unless permission has been explicitly sought to share email addresses)
  • Ensure parents are aware of the school’s web address so they can access key information
  • Develop a telephone tree of parents so that communication can occur easily
  • Ensure there is sufficient notice of parent-teacher interviews and curriculum days (ideally, a yearly calendar with dates noted for the year to come)
  • Allocate a school contact to each parent
  • Involve parents in student support meetings, mentoring and managing individual pathways programs
  • Hold pregress report evenings
  • Conduct social gatherings
  • Establish a Parent Resource Centre
  • Establish parent networks that can connect into existing parent association communications [6]

[6] Victorian Government, Parent Involvement in Drug Education: Guidelines for Schools

Please get in touch to find out more about the program
Please get in touch to find out more about the program