Mandurah LDAT: Peer-led AOD education
Mandurah Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) wanted to increase adolescents’ knowledge of alcohol harms, as school-based alcohol and other drug education was not engaging students.
Feedback showed that young people respond better to messaging delivered by their peers outside of school.
Another concern was that some local bottle shops in the southern area of Perth were selling alcohol to people under the age of 18. The project also sought to involve youth leaders and support a newly formed LGBTQIA+ group. The target audience was 13 to 17-year-olds.
With insights from a school survey, the LDAT knew what protective and risk factors to address. The solution centred around a two-pronged approach – increasing peer connection and support between young people, as well as reducing their access to alcohol.
Alcohol education sessions were held with existing youth groups, including the Council’s Young Yorgas and Thrive Young Women’s programs. Using story boards, they workshopped ideas for short videos on challenges and choices around alcohol that could be shared with friends.
Of most interest was how to tackle risky situations such as getting home after a late night out, looking after friends and saying ‘no’ in a cool way, without offending people. Real life scenarios were filmed on how to handle social pressures and stay safe.
The Youth Advisory Group played a leading role in designing and delivering the alcohol-free Beats Under the Bridge event, which included local services connecting with young people. Peer facilitators were trained for the Sprinkles group, which connected LGBTQIA+ young people. Run by headspace, 36 meetings were held over 12 months.
The Mandurah LDAT partners continued to monitor the sale of liquor to minors by auditing local bottle shops and reminding them of their responsibilities.
The LDAT also worked with the Council’s recreation team to promote the ADF’s Good Sports program to local clubs.
ADF resources and advice helped the LDAT plan and implement its evidence-informed primary prevention strategies.
This LDAT proved that peer-to-peer connections work. Post project research showed that participants were more aware of the risks of alcohol, felt more knowledgeable about the challenges and choices around alcohol and shared messaging amongst their friendship groups. All the Young Yorgas and Thrive Young Women’s group participants agreed that they now were better able to say ‘no’ to alcohol and get out of tricky situations.
The Youth Advisory Group’s school holiday event attracted more than 400 participants, and the Sprinkles group is happily established in a permanent space where they feel safe and free from judgement.
Partner organisations include Mandurah City Rotary Club, Palmerston Drug and Alcohol Service, John Tonkin College, the Department of Education, South Metropolitan Health Service, School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA), Billy Dower Youth Centre and the City of Mandurah.