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LDAT Spotlight: Adelaide’s Radio Italiana 531 LDAT

Adelaide’s Radio Italiana 531 Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) is working in the local Italian community to increase knowledge about the effects of alcohol and other drugs, reduce stigma and spark conversations.

It’s encouraging people to ask for support and informing them of services that can help them.

The challenge

The LDAT formed after the radio station noticed a knowledge gap when it came to talking about alcohol and other drugs in the Italian community.

The station wanted to help - knowing that they were best placed to have an impact as they were already heavily invested in the Adelaide Italian community, with a 48-year track record. The in-language station is a vital source of information, news and entertainment.

“We use the radio as a way to educate,” explained station general manager, Marco Petta.

“The Italian people, we’re a resilient community because of war and migration, but we don’t talk about these things. Alcohol and other drugs can sometimes be stigmatised because there is a pressure to keep up appearances and worry about what others will think of us.”

Radio Italiana teamed up with partners, Council of West Torrens and City of Campbelltown, to develop their Community Action Plan (CAP) and address these local concerns.

The response

The LDAT began consultation locally, to get an understanding of what alcohol and other drug knowledge was needed.

The initial concept was to educate elderly Italians about the risks associated with prescription medications.

But, the Italian youth committee, Club G, was very interested to be involved with the project, so the target audience was expanded to include young people aged 21 to 35.

Through its focus groups, the LDAT found that even if you only talk to young people, the issues and conversations get relayed back to their parents and grandparents.

“Ideally our CAP is about everyone, because alcohol and other drugs can affect the whole family,” said Marco.

Marco explained that sometimes in the Italian community, stigma gets in the way of help-seeking around alcohol and other drugs.

“If a family member has issues, culturally there can be a tendency that we try to cover it up and leave it in the closet. I think for us, it was good that in the focus group, people opened up. Parents, kids and grandparents were all able to talk.”

The CAP had two main activities: the production of informative resources and hosting local events.

Multiple events were held across 2022 and 2023, like a brunch, movie night and a beach party, attracting a variety of people, including many young people.

Through the events, the LDAT was able to tap into their younger audience and provide a chance for cultural and social connection, both proven protective factors against the use of alcohol and other drugs at all ages.

According to Marco, a key factor in the success of the LDAT has been the support they have received from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, which manages the LDAT program on behalf of the Australian Government.

The beach party, which was held at Henley Beach, was supported by the LDAT’s ADF Relationship Manager, Ishra Prashad, who attended as a guest speaker. And it was broadcast live to air.

The Sunday brunch attracted over 50 people, including ADF Regional Community Development Manager, Christian Thiel, who spoke at the event about the importance of AOD harm prevention.

ADF educational resources were also translated into Italian. Thousands of flyers and coasters were printed and promoted at the LDAT’s events, and in partnership with station sponsors like restaurants, stores, cafes and the Adelaide Italian Festival.

The coasters included information showing people what a standard drink looks like and the Australian drinking guidelines, as well as information about how to help a loved one, which could be accessed via a QR code. The A3 flyers directed people to resources, help and support.

Radio Italiana 531

The progress

At each event, the LDAT carried out surveys to see if the information was valuable to the community. The surveys showed that over 90% of attendees felt that their alcohol and other drug knowledge increased.

According to Ishra, the Radio Italiana LDAT is doing an amazing job of positively influencing change within their community around alcohol and other drug prevention.

“It’s no easy task as it involves having difficult conversations to break down the stigma that stops people from engaging in these dialogues in the first place,” she said.

“The team is proud of their Italian heritage and use this passion for preserving and promoting their culture to drive the important work that they do.

“This has also meant that the activities they develop and deliver often help to bridge the disconnect between different generations – increasing the impact that their work has.”

Marco’s advice to other LDATs

Marco advised other LDATs who are developing their CAP that the most important thing is to have realistic scenarios, goals and expectations of results.

He stressed that community consultation is an important step.

“Alcohol and other drugs can be really hard topics to discuss, especially with multicultural communities.

“Importantly, try to understand by asking questions to your communities - what is it they need to know?

“Don’t be scared to ask the hard questions.”

Marco also recommended leaning on the ADF staff for support and working hard to promote and get the message out there about the LDAT’s activities.

He explained that from the start, the LDAT had so much support from ADF and that Ishra had helped them to understand what needed to be done.

“We often apply for multicultural grants and we get a bit of support, but not as much as you get from ADF. We get one-of-a-kind support from ADF,” said Marco.

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