Barossa Valley

Tailoring projects to local audiences

Local Drug Action Teams across Australia are finding creative ways to connect with all age groups, despite continuing social restrictions.

These four projects all have one thing in common. An understanding of their local communities and what they need to stay safe during this crisis and beyond.

Connecting through live stream

Young people in Seymour can now talk live to their favourite influencers at home.

With a planned monthly cinema night on hold, the LDAT in central Victoria will be mentoring a team of young people in the skills needed to organise a live streaming event on Facebook.

The Role Model Live Stream Series will feature personalities chosen to connect with local youth, such as footy heroes and social media influencers. All local young people will be able to watch on their own devices and ask questions. Each of the nights will be sponsored by a local health service, with links for people to find out more about the service.

As well as tech skills, event planning, problem solving and budgeting, the organising team will learn how to deliver a project from start to finish, raising not only their skill levels but also pride and self-esteem.

Afri-Connect LDAT members

Alcohol education for young mums

Teens and especially young mums are also the target of an education program in Adelaide’s outer-southern suburbs on the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has been identified as a pressing local issue, with many young women who are expecting their second or third child still unaware of how alcohol permanently harms their foetus. In one high school in Adelaide’s outer south there are around 50 young mums, many of them returning to school, who service providers believe are unaware of alcohol harm.

When students headed home and face-to-face education sessions for Year 9 and 10 students weren’t possible, the Local Drug Action Team created online modules for teachers to use in their Health and Wellbeing curriculum.

The FASD online modules and teacher training have become such a success that there are high hopes the program will become permanently embedded in the curriculum and spread across all SA schools.

African Australians conduct research

Barriers that prevent members of the African Australian community accessing alcohol and other drug services have been the focus of the Afri Connect LDAT project in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.

Lead by local community agency Afri-Aus Care, the LDAT played a central role in consultations with government and community services for many months before the lockdown. When face-to-face workshops had to be cancelled, a new strategy was needed.

The LDAT formed a Knowledge Team made up of nine young second-generation African Australians. The young people hit the phones to contact their community connections with a simple three-question survey, which asked:

  • What causes young people to turn to alcohol or drugs?
  • What are the barriers that stop people seeking help?
  • If you knew someone who had a problem, who would you send them to for help?

The team surveyed 55 people. A large portion of the respondents named peer pressure and escaping stress and anxiety as the main reasons they turn to alcohol or other drugs. It was also identified that shame and fear of judgement was the main obstacle for respondents seeking help for these issues.

Early indications are the research will lead to a Community Action Plan that tries to build better ways to connect African Australians with the local community services they need.

Caring online

The Barossa Local Drug Action Team had a focus in mind when it developed its own response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Barossa encompasses several towns over a wide area, and the team saw a need to keep its community safe and connected at a time of increased social isolation.

The LDAT, led by the Southern Barossa Alliance, developed a pilot Barossa Cares e-community website to help people in southern Barossa spread a little care and kindness during the crisis. The website is now hosted by the Barossa Council with several other local community, healt, and tourism organisations adding their expertise to support the whole Barossa community. The support hub offers accurate COVID-related information, links to support services and even ways to help a neighbour in need.

As the health and economic fallout progresses, it is expected the harm from alcohol and other drugs will rise and, that’s where the Barossa LDAT comes in. They will ensure the website is updated to provide alcohol and other drug harm prevention information and how to access specific local support. It is anticipated that the website will also be used during other future regional emergencies.

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