Term 4 2017 Parents
Positive Choices Issue #10: Keeping you up-to-date with evidence-based drug prevention.
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The aim of this e-newsletter is to provide our subscribers with information about new research findings and drug prevention resources, and to share relevant news, conferences and events.
Thank you for subscribing to the Positive Choices newsletter, and welcome to our Term 4 issue for 2017.
Leavers' week, schoolies, coasties...whatever terminology you're familiar with, the celebration that marks the end of  high school can leave many parents feeling concerned for their teenager's well-being. In this issue, we look at how parents can approach this time and help prepare their teenagers for a safe and enjoyable celebration. Even if it's not your child's turn this year, there are some tips for all parents about encouraging open communication on the topic of drugs and alcohol. Please help us spread the word by forwarding this newsletter to parents in your school or networks, and encourage them to subscribe themselves at www.positivechoices.org.au. 
Thank you for subscribing to the Positive Choices e-newsletter and welcome to Issue #9
How to prepare for schoolies/leavers/coasties
We've put together some advice below, along with some information sourced by Queensland government's useful website, to help you prepare for the celebrations ahead. Above all, it's important to encourage open communication with your teenager, both before they leave for the celebration and whilst they are away.

Before they leave:
Set aside some time to spend with your teenager, or together as a family. Taking an active role in their lives, particularly in a time where they are experiencing change and uncertainty about what lies ahead, will encourage them to communicate openly with you.
Start a conversation about schoolies/leavers and being safe. You might want to include the following topics:
  • Talk with your teenager about how their friends' behaviour can impact them, and the importance of doing what they feel comfortable with. For example, the importance of not getting into cars when the driver has been drinking, and what to do if a friend becomes aggressive or violent
  • Listen to your teen to understand if they have concerns about the celebrations, and talk through these concerns with them
  • Voice the concerns you may have about alcohol and drug use. Perhaps it's that the brain is still developing up until the age of 21, and the knowledge that drinking and drug use can have a negative effect on this development. The video, Under Construction: Alcohol and the teenage brain, can help you or your teenager understand this concern
  • Make sure they understand it's OK to say no to things they don't want to do. It can be hard to be assertive sometimes, particularly in a group of friends. Positive Choices' factsheet, Making Choices, has tips on being assertive and how teenagers can handle situations in which they might feel pressured to take drugs. You may want to remind your teen that although it is sometimes portrayed differently, the majority of young people do not use illicit drugs, and an increasing number of teens are abstaining from alcohol use. View our factsheet Mythbusters: Common Drug Myths exposed
  • Prepare a list of contact details of your child's friends. Know where your child will be staying and get the phone number at their accommodation
  • Get in touch with their friends' parents and exchange contact details with them.
Talk to your teenager about alcohol, drugs and the law:
  • If your teen will be driving at schoolies, make sure they are aware that even the next morning they may still have alcohol in their system.
  • If your teenager is 18 and buys alcohol for underage friends, this could result in a hefty fine (sometimes over $10 000)
  • If your teenager is heading interstate or overseas, it is important they understand different laws and penalties may apply around drinking in a public place, underage drinking and drunk and disorderly behaviour
If your teenager is travelling overseas to celebrate schoolies/leavers, Smart Traveller has put together some important advice.

Related resources:  While they are celebrating schoolies:
  • Maintain communication with your teenager while they are away. Arrange a time to speak to them every now and then throughout the week. Early afternoon can often be the best time.
  • Let them know they can contact you day or night, for whatever reason, and make sure you keep your mobile phone close by in case they call
  • Recommend to your teen to make a back-up plan when they go out, to help keep themselves and their friends safe. Their plan might include a location to meet their friends if they get separated, knowing the address of their accommodation and what services they can contact to assist them if they get into trouble
  • Remind them of the possibility and dangers of drink spiking, and advise them to keep their drink with them at all times
Still feeling unprepared? Positive Choices has a range of resources and drug and alcohol information for parents. Have a look for yourself!
Australian Government Department of Health launches the National Drugs Campaign

On 24 September 2017, Minister Hunt launched the National Drugs Campaign. The objective of the Campaign is to increase the likelihood that individuals will avoid, reduce or cease use of illicit drugs by raising awareness of the risks (health, social, legal, family impact) associated with use. The Campaign aims to support and encourage decisions not to use, and direct people to information about further resources, support and treatment services. 
Further information about the Campaign can be accessed at drughelp.gov.au
Would you like to get your community involved in prevention of drug and alcohol related harms?

In late 2017, applications will open for community groups and organisations to become a Local Drug Action Team (LDAT). The LDAT program is an initiative under the Australian Government’s four year investment to reduce the harms that drugs and alcohol are having across the country. The program seeks to identify, develop and deliver local solutions to local drug and alcohol issues.
Local Drug Action Teams will work collaboratively to prevent alcohol and other drug harms in their community. With support and resources from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), the LDATs will deliver evidence-informed social change activities that strengthen protective factors to minimise AOD harms in their community.  

Over the next 3 years, it is hoped that up to 220 LDATs will be established across the country.  LDATs might include partnerships between local government, local community groups, local traders/business associations, police, schools, and local not-for-profit organisations.  All LDATs will be supported to develop a Community Action Plan and will be eligible to access funding of up to $40,000 per annum to put these plans into action.

More information about the Local Drug Action Team program can be accessed here.
Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians will have the opportunity to tell Positive Choices about their positive personal experiences through text, art or film. This could include an artwork about their role models, a video about why they don’t take drugs and alcohol or a short story on their favourite parts of their community. The person who enters the most creative and inspiring story will win a Macbook Air and the runner up will receive a $500 JB HIFI voucher.
Listen to the Positive Choices team present, or catch up with us at our booth/display, at these upcoming events.
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