Young people are making Palmerston in the Northern Territory a better place for everyone.
Working with the Palmerston Youth Local Drug Action Team (LDAT), they’re creating change through Positive Palmerston. It’s an initiative highlighting healthy and safe places for young people - as well as how to access age-appropriate knowledge about alcohol and other drug harms.
The project is aimed at earlier intervention and prevention, with young people helping to co-design a range of educational resources for their peers.
The LDAT is proud to have supported them to come together to create content that encourages them to feel safe and socially engaged in the local community.
Palmerston faces significant issues with displaced people coming in from outlying communities and becoming intoxicated in public spaces. Young people need to feel safe in the city, know how to look out for each other and help people in risky situations.
Rachel Fosdick, Secretary of the Palmerston and Regional Basketball Association, the lead partner in the LDAT, said there was a dual need to identify safe spaces where young people could be connected to others, while increasing their access to practical information about alcohol and other drugs.
Teens who feel connected to their communities are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs.
“After school is the biggest cohort who need a safe place to hang out,” says Rachel. “We’ve had success with the Youth Drop-in Sports program which offers free after-school sessions supervised by amazing mentors.
“Young people want to have conversations about alcohol and other drugs. It’s about being able to identify risky behaviours, how you can have an uncomfortable conversation with a friend and also be ready to receive advice yourself.”
According to Rachel, there was also a need to destigmatise mental health from both a positive and negative viewpoint, as sometimes mental health issues can be glorified.
Supportive social networks and positive coping skills act as protective factors that can improve young people’s confidence to help their peers.
In designing their Community Action Plan, the LDAT held a mapping session with the Geek Squad, a youth group that meets regularly to watch and discuss all things anime.
“What we heard from young people was that they didn’t know where to find alcohol and other drug resources and they didn’t know where to go for help.
“They also didn’t know what to do when they saw an intoxicated person in a public space.”
When designing resources for the campaign, Rachel said it was really good to be directed to what suited the young people best.
“The mediums [the LDAT] was considering were not those preferred by the group of young people. We wanted to make a video, but they wanted a hard copy resource to keep in their phone case and a poster with QR codes.”
"The LDAT project helped me to identify a need in my community and do something productive to assist in addressing it,” said one of the young participants.
Rachel praised the ADF for upskilling the LDAT’s team and for bringing in a facilitator to help empower the working group to confidently tell us we were on track to get the right result.
“ADF’s Relationship Managers were brilliant in directing us to the right resources and connecting us with some really cool services that were appropriate to embed what we were doing.
“Our Relationship Manager was our personal cheerleader and advocate,“ added Rachel.
The Community Action Plan started in 2020 but was delayed by COVID.
The project had a soft launch in October 2022, firstly being released to the sector before the wider community. Young locals from Palmerston participated in the event, with one passionate working group member acting as the MC.
The co-designed resources will be launched during the Northern Territory’s Youth Week, in April 2023. The LDAT will promote resources available, places to seek help and how to have difficult conversations, plus a range of drop-in services in Palmerston.