In 2014, the BoysTown received a grant from the Foundation to develop and implement an alcohol harm minimisation program targeting young people aged 12-17 years who:
- had left school early, often missing out on school based education programs;
- had, through necessity, developed ‘street smarts’ and considered themselves to be ‘more worldly’ and knowledgeable than their school-attending peers, but were in fact relying on various ‘myths’ they had learned from friends regarding alcohol;
- had already commenced regular and heavy alcohol consumption, even though many of them were young (below official school leaving age and the legal age for alcohol consumption).
BoysTown consulted with youth workers, managers, alcohol and other drug (AOD) workers, and other staff, and held eight focus groups in locations across Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales. Research was conducted on current best practice in alcohol harm minimisation for young people, as well as review of research previously conducted by BoysTown on client views on how AOD workshops should be delivered.
As a result, pilot workshops were delivered at Goodna, Deception Bay, Logan, Redlands, Queensland; Elisabeth, South Australia; and Campbelltown, New South Wales, with a total of 39 participants.
Final versions of Tapped In! workshop materials include: workshop outline, three workshop session plans, PowerPoint presentation, facilitator guide, participant feedback form, and five participant handouts. Workshop resources were provided on USB for both facilitators and participants. Feedback from both participants and facilitators was collected via written feedback forms, as well as group and individual discussions.
Inform young, disadvantaged participants of the risks associated with alcohol
Discussions held in the focus groups provided great insight to the understanding that participants had around the risks associated with alcohol. Some individuals presented to have substantial knowledge and expressed frustration at adults assuming they “didn’t know anything”. They stated that most effective workshops would have them talking about what they do know, then teach them additional information if there were gaps in their knowledge. The focus groups provided participants with an opportunity to share their knowledge about the risks of alcohol and how to stay safe.
Pilot workshops were designed with the intention of allowing facilitators to determine the level of knowledge in the group about risks and harms associated with alcohol, and then build upon this knowledge through group discussion and reflection. After the pilot workshops, 38 out of 39 pilot participants (97%) reported having increased their knowledge about how alcohol can affect
them. Throughout the project, risks and harms associated with alcohol were discussed with a total of 90 young people – 51 in the focus groups and 39 in the pilot workshops. The development of these workshop resources will allow for many more clients to be informed of alcohol risks and harms as the workshops are available to facilitators to deliver at all BoysTown sites.
Increase the likelihood that participants will modify their drinking behaviour and drink more responsibly, with greater awareness
Focus group and pilot workshop participants stated that sharing what they already knew about how to stay safe when drinking is an effective way to promote awareness. It was recognised by several groups that individuals will make their own choices about drinking, but that having more information about how to reduce risk of harm would potentially help them make better decisions.
Workshop materials were designed to assist participants in consolidating information to ensure they leave the workshop better equipped to drink more responsibly. The Facilitator Guide outlines details on how to support discussion and critical thinking in the workshop. For example, Session 2 has an activity where participants in small groups brainstorm strategies to stay safe if they choose to drink on a night out. After the small group activity, the large group distils all of the suggestions into a Top Ten list with the most practical strategies they believe they can apply to their lives. 34 out of 39 pilot workshop participants (87%) indicated they had learned something useful that they could apply in their life. 37 out of 39 (94%) reported having learnt some ways to
help keep their mates safe when drinking.
Create training materials that are age‐appropriate, relevant and appealing to young people, reflect current research and best practice, are easy to follow and able to be customised to suit individual groups’ or participants’ needs
Workshop resources were developed with flexibility to allow for facilitators to be able to tailor the workshop to the needs of the group, including age, experience with alcohol, learning difficulties, culture, etc. The workshop has been developed into three sessions that can be delivered together, or as separate modules, with flexibility to be further customised to meet the needs of participants. The workshop modules are as follows: 1. Alcohol Awareness (how alcohol affects you), 2. Staying Safe (reducing harm from alcohol) and 3. Helping Your Mates. All of the modules are developed with a harm‐minimisation and strengths‐based approach, reflecting best practice and current research around alcohol and other drugs and working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Young people provided positive feedback about the workshop being relevant, interesting, delivered at the right pace, and easy to understand.
Enable facilitators to confidently facilitate the workshops to effectively assist young people to reduce their risks associated with alcohol
Facilitators were present to observe and assist during the focus groups and pilot workshops and provided written and verbal feedback about the workshop content, design, and resources. This feedback assisted in ensuring facilitators were provided with all the information they required and that the workshop design and resources met the needs of both the facilitators and the participants. A Facilitator Guide was developed as a key resource to help facilitators understand how to achieve the best possible outcomes with participants in the workshops. Designed to be paired with the Workshop Outline and Workshop Session Plans, the Facilitator Guide provides detailed information on how to tailor the workshop to best assist young people to reduce their risks
associated with alcohol.
Project date: 1 January 2014 – 31 December 2014