HEPBURN will be one of ten trial sites across Australia to take part in an internationally renowned trial aiming to address youth alcohol and drug use.
The Planet Youth team will run the program with the Alcohol and Drug Foundation and Hepburn's Local Drug Action Team (LDAT), comprised of representatives from Hepburn Health Service, Hepburn Shire Council, Daylesford College, Victoria Police, Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre and community members.
The ten Local Drug Action Teams chosen to take part in the trial were selected for their strong community partnerships and commitments to preventing the harms associated with drug use.
The two-and-a-half year trial will be tailored to the needs of the different communities taking part. In Hepburn, the program will expand on the successful The Cook, The Chef and Us program which was created to improve students' mental health and well-being and reduce the harm caused by drugs through promoting engagement with education through a range of opportunities and training programs in the hospitality industry.
Population Health Coordinator at Hepburn Health Service, Belinda Buck, said Planet Youth would boost opportunities and positive connections with family, peers and community to ensure youth have positive health and well-being outcomes.
She said the LDAT had strengthened Hepburn Health's ability to effectively support young people in the community and the Planet Youth program would enhance the work already being undertaken by deepening the understanding of the community's profile.
"Trialling Planet Youth across the Hepburn Shire region will not only enhance the work currently undertaken with youth, but it will also identify other potential local programs by improving relationships with local youth and through assessing current local community capacity," Ms Buck said.
"Local Drug Action Team programs recognise that no community is the same as the next and that locally-led responses are vital when it comes to preventing and minimising harm caused by alcohol and other drugs.
"Planet Youth shows that long term investment in community-led prevention leads to significant reductions in alcohol and other drugs Planet Youth shows that long term investment in community-led prevention leads to significant reductions in alcohol and other drugs."
Hepburn Shire Council's acting chief executive Bruce Lucas said communities across Australia, including Hepburn, were affected by drug use.
"The Planet Youth pilot project will gather meaningful and specific local data and will engage the voices of our young people in Hepburn Shire. The data and research gathered in the project will help develop evidence-informed activities at a grass-roots level that will have significant impact on the prevention and minimisation of harm from alcohol and other drugs," he said.
Locally-led responses are vital when it comes to the successful development of primary prevention strategies for substance use, which can have far-reaching health outcomes for young people and the wider community.Bruce Lucas
The Planet Youth prevention program began in Iceland in the nineties and has significantly reduced the rates of drug use in the country.
Before the program had begun, the numbers of youth using drugs in Iceland were some of the highest in Europe but are now among the lowest.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation's chief executive officer Dr Erin Lalor said the trial was a unique opportunity to strengthen the work of the nation's 244 LDATs.
"Preventative health works fiscally and socially. However, it can sometimes take years and even generations to precisely determine a program's impact. Planet Youth shows that long term investment in community-led prevention leads to significant reductions in alcohol and other drug use," Dr Lalor said.
Planet Youth has been adopted in 20 countries.
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.