10 Dec 2010
Submission by School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA)
Introduction and Mission
The introductory section provides a sound overview of the historical context, the current philosophy concerning strategies to address harms from drug use and ther future intent of the NDS. School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA) is particularly concerned with AOD issues related to young people and specifically in the school setting. SDERA is the WA state government's primary drug education strategy for young people and supports government and non government schools implement best practice drug education programs. In terms of "...building safe and healthy communities..." SDERA considers the school community to be an important setting for prevention education and early intervention. Through the auspices of the National School Drug Education Strategy (NSDES) that was a component of the 2004-9 NDS there was significant achievement in promoting best practice prevention drug education and increasing the capacity of the school workforce to engage in early intervention. While the introductory comments in the NDS 2010-15 draft document draws attention to young people's drug use, school education and prevention it does not provide a sense of a coherrent sub strategy to address drug use by young people in the school setting. The school setting is consistently recognised by practitioners and researchers as a key location for prevention efforts and evidence based prevention is consistently recognised as a worhty and cost effective component of drug strategy. In contract the NSDES provided a focal point for addressing current and emerging issues facing young people that included state/territory collaboration in the appropriate and sensitive implementation of harm minimisation in the school setting.To this end SDERA supports the continued use of harm minimsation, using the 3 "pillars" of demand, supply and harm reduction, as a framework for addressing the harms associated with drug use.
SDERA further supports the focus on alcohol and cannabis use as key drug use issues to address in the youth area while keeping the downward pressure on tobacco use. While a focus on risk factors and vulnerable groups helps formaulate strategy protective factors should also be considered
The Pillars: Supply Reduction
SDERA supports the drive to curb the supply of lllegal drugs and emphatically supports the control and management of the supply of legal drugs to young people, specifically alcohol. While regulatory, enforcement and workforce development (training of hospitality staff) measures should be strenghtened to limit supply of alcohol to young people the vexing issue remains the secondary supply of alcohol to young people by parents. This has surfaced as an issue of some siginficance in the data of the last 2 ASSAD surveys 2005,2008. SDERA supports the strengthening of strategies to empower family communication around alcohol and drug use. SDERA supports the consderation of regulatory mechanisms to emphasis duty of care by adults at functions where young people have access to alcohol.
The Pillars: Demand Reduction
SDERA supports the provision of school drug education as a key component of prevention education based approaches to demand reduction. The school setting has long been recognised as a focal point for prevention education. SDERA supports the notion that "Settings based approaches will be a key feature of the National Drug Strategy 2010-15>" SDERA supports the implementation of school drug education that complies with the "Principles for School Drug Education" (DEST 2004) and recognises that drug education should be:
- comprehensive in nature
- delivered by classroom teachers
- developmentally appropriate
- tailored to the local community context
- based on the best available evidence.
Schools are in a unique position to be able to connect with young people and their parents/carers and, given the resources, can not only provide prevention education but provide support for families and, in partnership with external agencies, referral avenues should early intervention be required. Furthermore, as part of broader student wellbeing philosophy, schools can focus on building protective factors such as resilience skills and contribute to socially inclusive communities through the adoption of of a health promotion schools approach.
The Pillars: Harm reduction
As a result of the consistent approach promoted over the years, through the NSDES, schools have adopted an appropriate stance on harm reduction and there is now little confusion about the terminolgy and the intent of this "pillar". SDERA supports the promotion of appropriate harm reduction strategies in the school setting including abstinence. SDERA further supports early intervention in the school setting to prevent entrenched drug use behaviour occurring and for the protection of the school community through the development of safe school environments.
SDERA suppoprts the idea that the school setting is an important focal point for prevention and early intervention. In this regard school staff, as the workforce, should be viewed as targets for development and capacity building. This includes, teachers, pastoral care staff, school pyschologists/counsellors, chaplains, school nurses and other staff that have a student support or pastoral care role. School staff trained in early intervention strategies may assist students reduce drug use harm or even stop drug use altogether. Importantly they can keep students connected to education and support services. SDEREA supports investment in school staff as a workforce development strategy.
Evidence base and Performance measures
"The Principles for School Drug Education" (DEST 2004) have provided and evidence base for the development, implementation and evaluation of school drug education programs for a number of years. It would be timely, should further investment be accorded to school drug education, that these principles be revised and fine tuned according to the evidence that has emerged in the years subsequent to 2004. Consequently a more current and relavent performance framework could be developed around the successful delivery of school based drug education programs. SDERA supports the extension and refining of the evidence base upon which the performance of NDS is judeged.
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