ACT News

New school-based sports program to encourage responsible drinking

A new education program has been launched in ACT high schools to prevent alcohol-related harm and to encourage social responsibility among students.

The program, which is co-ordinated by Sports Medicine Australia and Australian University Sport, was launched at Lyneham High School on Wednesday and will target sport students in Grades 9 to 12.

Jason Mazanov, a registered psychologist and member of Sports Medicine Australia, said it was important to equip high-school students with the skills to deal with problems that may arise while drinking during their university years.

"What become important for these students is identifying situations in which they can do something to make sure someone does not harm themselves or others," he said.

"That might be making sure someone does not do a stupid dare, or walk home alone, or even encouraging people to drink water between drinks."

Dr Mazanov said the program was designed to ensure students developed the confidence and awareness to look after their friends while drinking and act responsibly.

"Significant changes in alcohol consumption can be made when students, athletes and administrators take the responsibility of being leaders in their life, club, school, sports and/or team environment and show others how to drink responsibly," he said.

"The aim is to build on the culture of looking out for your mates to prevent the problems that come with alcohol use."

Sports Medicine Australia ACT chief executive Trish Donoghue said the program was a one-year trial and did not receive government or private funding.

"We have been working to breach a gap in the education of alcohol related harms as students entering university are often thrust into situations where they do not have the skills to prevent something happening," she said.

Ms Donoghue said the program would be extended to other schools later this year including Canberra Girls Grammar school, Queanbeyan High School, Daramalan College and Merici College.

"This is the stage where you have to talk to students about alcohol and help them recognise that even if they do not drink others will and some may make bad decisions," Dr Mazanov said.

"We work with the students to make sure they can change these potentially dangerous situations to safe ones."

Lyneham High School physical education teacher Lisa Price said the program would be integrated into their curriculum and feedback would be provided to the Sports Medicine Australia.

"We value a holistic approach when developing our student athletes which mirrors the practices of professional sporting organisations," she said.

"Raising awareness and building their skills in the areas of personal brand, social media, recreational drug use and dealing with high pressure situation better prepares students for the next stage in their sporting pathways."

Despite being a trial program, Ms Donoghue said the scheme would need additional funding if it were to continue in coming years and target more schools.

"We need to take this to the next level and we need someone who can help write more support notes for the teachers and other resources for teaching within schools," she said.

"This is all about the kids and we need to be able to communicate with the effectively."