Port Pirie joins Murray Bridge and Limestone Coast to trial successful Planet Youth program

BEGUN: An international evidence-based drug and alcohol prevention program has expanded its trial reach in regional SA to support more teenagers. Photo: Shutterstock
BEGUN: An international evidence-based drug and alcohol prevention program has expanded its trial reach in regional SA to support more teenagers. Photo: Shutterstock

Three country SA regions now trial a successful, internationally developed drug and alcohol prevention program in a concerted state effort to help reduce harm and risks among teenagers.

The Planet Youth program, carried out by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), is an evidence-based approach which was instigated in Iceland in the 1990s.

Port Pirie and neighbouring areas, plus Salisbury, in the northern suburbs, are the latest sites to trial the initiative.

They join Murray Bridge and the Limestone Coast.

Impressively, the program has led to alcohol and other drug use rates among young people transforming from some of the highest in Europe, to among the lowest.

Data by Planet Youth shows that between 1998 and 2018, the proportion of Iceland's year ten students who had been intoxicated across 30 days fell from 42 per cent to five per cent.

The daily cigarette smokers in the same age group dropped from 23 per cent to as low as two per cent.

Furthermore, the students who used cannabis once or more in their lifetime declined from 17 per cent to six per cent.

Bullying and juvenile crime were also reduced.

Importantly, the trial is underway in Port Pirie, a spokesperson for the Alcohol and Drug Foundation shared.

It is carried out by the Port Pirie and surrounds Local Drug Action Team (PPLDAT), led by Uniting Country SA.

According to the spokesperson, the team will model the program until June 2024, with the first year 10 school survey due to be held between September and October this year.

"The survey findings will be used to inform activities that the team undertake under the 4 Planet Youth Domains - school, peer group, leisure time and family," the spokesperson said.

The work complements PPLDAT's strong focus on building protective factors for young people through activities that prevent alcohol and other drug harms.

It is further assisted by a strong base of supporters including representatives from Country SA PHN, community organisations and members, Port Pirie Regional Council, SA Police and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Meanwhile, the pilot is already shaping up at Murray Bridge, where it has been supported and praised by the community and its leaders.

This story Youth prevention trial expands in country SA first appeared on The Recorder.