What is Positive Choices?
Positive Choices is an online portal to help school communities access accurate, up-to-date drug education resources and prevention programs.
Research suggests the teenage years are when alcohol and other drug use are first initiated. This highlights the importance of intervening early with young people to prevent drug use uptake and associated harms. School staff and parents can play an important role in protecting young people from drug-related harms and empowering them to make positive choices. Teachers, school counsellors, and parents are also the primary sources of contact for young people seeking advice or help for drug use issues, thus it is crucial they are equipped with accurate information and evidence-based harm prevention strategies.
To meet this need, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care funded the development of Positive Choices, an online portal that recognises cultural diversity and provides access to interactive evidence-based drug education resources for school communities.
Who is behind Positive Choices?
Positive Choices was informed by input from teachers, parents, and students across Australia, and was developed in collaboration by researchers from:
Watch this video to hear the Positive Choices story:
In 2014, Positive Choices was recognised by the Australian Rotary Health Knowledge Dissemination Award at the Society for Mental Health Research Conference. The award was for excellence in bridging the gap between knowledge gained through research and the dissemination of that knowledge to clinicians, consumers, and carers, and its implementation into policy and practice.
In 2017, Positive Choices was awarded the Mental Health Promotion and Wellbeing Mental Health Matters Award as part of Mental Health Month. The awards are to acknowledge work to improve understanding, awareness, service provision and the general mental health of communities in NSW over the past year.
In 2023, Positive Choices was highly commended for the Mental Health Promotion/Mental Illness Prevention Service Award by The Mental Health Services (TheMHS) Learning Network of Australia and New Zealand. These awards celebrate best practice and recognise excellence and innovation in mental health service delivery across Australia and New Zealand, and were established in 1992.
The Positive Choices team would like to thank the many teachers, parents and students from around the country who generously provided their input and feedback during the development of this resource. Here are some of the things they had to say about Positive Choices:
- “It had extensive information. It addressed so many aspects of drug and alcohol usage - facts and information that I may not have thought about addressing myself.” —Parent
- “The whole portal is honestly one of the best, most informative, wide ranging and also easiest to use sites that I have encountered. I shall be sharing this site with my whole school staff and also my friends to help them with their parenting issues. Overall…10/10!” —Teacher
- “This is a great resource. Its primary value is in bringing together all of these resources in an accessible manner.” —Teacher
Positive Choices acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work and conduct our research. We pay our respects to ancestors and Elders, past and present, and are committed to honouring Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas.
We also acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have contributed to the development of Positive Choices, as members of our research team, expert advisory group and Aboriginal students, parents and teachers who have provided input to guide development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander portal and resources. We acknowledge our partner organisation in this work, Gilimbaa, and the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal experts from the following organisations who provided their expert input:
- NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Prevention and Early intervention in Mental Illness and Substance use (PREMISE): The Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use Centre of Research Excellence (PREMISE) was funded in 2018 by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. The objective of the PREMISE Centre of Research Excellence is to provide a world first synergy of leading prevention and early intervention research and translation programs in mental health and addiction.
- Gilimbaa: Gilimbaa is an Indigenous creative agency, born out of a passion to work with Indigenous art and story-telling and the elements it can bring to contemporary design and communication.
- The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC): The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) is a leading Australian research institution that is internationally recognised as a Research Centre of Excellence. The Centre was established at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 1986 and is funded by the Australian Government as part of its National Drug Strategy.
- National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University (NDRI): The National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) generates and disseminates high quality research that contributes to preventing drug related harm in Australia and internationally. NDRI has been a key collaborator in the development of the Positive Choices portal.
- Australian Indigenous Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre: The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre was established by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (HealthInfoNet) in partnership with the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and the National Centre for Education Training on Addiction (NCETA).
- Black Dog Institute: The Black Dog Institute was founded in 2002 and is internationally recognised as a pioneer in the identification, prevention and treatment of mental illness, and the promotion of wellbeing.
- NSW Government, Family and Community Services (FACS): Family and Community Services (FACS) works with children, adults, families and communities to improve lives and help people realise their potential.
- Aboriginal Drug & Alcohol Council (SA) Aboriginal Corporation: The Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (ADAC) (SA) was incorporated in 1993 as a direct result of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. ADAC provides responses to a range of state and national committees and strategies, helps communities deal with the problems associated with substance misuse, develops health promotional materials, undertakes research on its own and in collaboration with various universities and key national research organisations.
- Government of NSW: The Government of NSW is the Australian state democratic administrative authority of NSW.
- South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI): South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is South Australia's first independent flagship health and medical research institute. They're home to more than 700 medical researchers, working together to tackle the biggest health challenges in society today.
- South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC): South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) is a non-government, not for profit, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health, Wellbeing and Community Services Organisation. They provide health and wellbeing services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities throughout the NSW South Coast.
- The University of Newcastle (UON): The University of Newcastle (UON) stands as a global leader distinguished by a commitment to equity and excellence and to creating a better future for its regions through a focus on innovation and impact.