“Strong partnerships enabling increasingly close collaboration is a key principle underlying the Local Drug Action Team program. And this is what’s been achieved in Colac,” says Tapuwa Bofu, the ADF Relationship Manager who has been working closely with the town’s LDAT since it joined the program in September 2017.
Colac is a small rural community in Victoria’s Western District, approximately 150km south-west of Melbourne. It’s here that the Colac Schools and Community Together Group (SACTG) is based.
The SACTG is a partnership of local organisations taking a collective approach to the work they do with children, teenagers and their families. The approach has deepened local collaboration across a variety of sectors and the general public to solve complex social problems including a reduction in alcohol harms in the community.
“With support from the ADF’s Local Drug Action Team program, Communities that Care, Beyond the Bell and the AFL’s Geelong Football Club, among others, this work is a powerful example of a community-led initiative,” adds Eamonn O’Toole.
The group has established a shared vision. This enabled the development of a community action plan that identified primary prevention strategies aimed at promoting healthy development of children and young people in four priority areas:
- Improving Year 12 (or equivalent) completion rates.
- Improving social, emotional and physical wellbeing.
- Improving community understanding, attitudes and acceptance of the harms caused by alcohol and other drug use.
- Increasing community connectedness.
Colac’s Schools and Community Together Group has already developed a social marketing campaign and a series of videos – one of which was screened during a 2018 AFL match between the Geelong and Greater Western Sydney.
SACTG’s work aims to strengthen protective factors and reduce risk factors in the community and includes the Just Think program.
‘Just Think’ works with sporting clubs to change the behaviour of young people – encouraging them to abstain from consuming alcohol before the age of 18. Speaking to young people and their families, the campaign highlights the effects that alcohol has on the developing brain, their physical performance, as well as the social implications of underage drinking.