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Education not prevention key in drug fight

Friday, 06 July 2012


A new research program led by Edith Cowan University (ECU) is teaching young people the skills they need to make safer decisions about alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs before they reach 18.   

It aims to address growing concerns about teenage drinking. A recent study found that 83 per cent of Australians had consumed alcohol by the time they reached 14.

The Drug Education in Victorian Schools (DEVS) program, developed by ECU Associate Professor Richard Midford from the Faculty of Education and Arts, focuses on skill-based education, as a way of preventing harmful drug use amongst teenagers.

Working with over 1,700 school students in 21 schools across Victoria, the education program engages students in an interactive dialogue around the use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other illicit drugs, with the aim to improve their decision making skills

The 2 year, 18 lesson program looks at:

  • How to stay safe around alcohol;
  • Attitudes towards smoking; and
  • Drug intervention and education.

Early findings showed that students who have gone through the program are more knowledgeable about drug use; communicate more with their parents about alcohol; drank less; got drunk less; and experienced fewer alcohol related harms.

“Young people are faced with numerous and powerful influences to use both licit and illicit drugs, with school drug education playing an important role in counterbalancing these influences, and helping students make informed decisions,” Professor Midford said.

The program is being run in conjunction with Victoria’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development; The University of Melbourne; and Oxford Brookes University in the UK. It recently took out the category for Excellence in Prevention and Community Education at the recent National Drug and Alcohol Excellence Awards.

The program was funded by an ARC Linkage grant awarded to Professor Midford.

Further findings from the research will be released shortly.

For more information visit the Premier of Victoria website.


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