News from Australia21 - 'Smarter about Drugs' school pilot
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9 September 2016

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Not the US election ...
Helping young people make strong choices:
'Smarter about Drugs' school pilot
The outcome of the US election may well have global ramifications, but this local, grassroots school program could have personal, community and national well-being outcomes that are just as important.
Cowandilla Primary School teacher and students during a 'Smarter about Drugs' session
How have our attitudes to smoking changed over time? Why do people take drugs? Year 5, 6 and 7 students at Cowandilla Primary School in South Australia have examined these questions as part of a pilot drug awareness program running throughout 2016.

Assisted by Australia21 and inspired by the 2014 Young Australia21 'Smarter about Drugs' youth workshop, the Cowandilla teachers have run 'Smarter about Drugs' sessions with 100 students. The year 5/6 class has looked at the questions ‘What are drugs?’ and ‘Why do people take drugs?’. The year 6/7 classes have examined the story of smoking, the social construct of smoking over time, and the social attitudes that shape and change this construct.
Class discussions focus on health over criminality. Students record their thoughts and responses to the discussion through video diary or written work. In future sessions, teachers plan to investigate another class of drug with their students, exploring the social attitudes to the drug, strategies to avoid risky situations and problem solving in risky situations.
School Principal Julie Hayes says the goal of the program is ‘to arm primary school students, particularly years 6 and 7, earlier and appropriately with knowledge and ability to make strong choices in all aspects of their lives and their friends’ lives, particularly about drug and alcohol issues’.

Julie, her teachers and school counsellor spent 2015 developing the program in consultation with Australia21 directors, Alex Wodak, Bob Douglas and Mick Palmer, as well as Brenda Hosking of the Australian Lions Drug Awareness Foundation (ALDAF).

The Cowandilla teachers have shown great dedication and commitment to ensure a well-researched and informed program for their students. By monitoring and evaluating the pilot, we hope to develop a drug awareness program that we can share with primary schools around Australia.
Deb Lavis
Director, Australia21
The ‘Smarter about Drugs’ program has developed out of previous Australia21 work on drugs, in particular a Young Australia21 workshop in Adelaide in 2014.
Young Australia21 in collaboration with Australia21 and ALDAF is developing a drug education resource for schools that aims to encourage students to talk openly about drug and alcohol issues. The 'Smarter about Drugs' conversation pack will be launched in 2017.
Existential risk
We face existential crises but we have the solutions ... if only we could think outside the boxes of endless growth and a market that will save us. Read Australia21 Director, Bob Douglas, on Julian Cribb's thoughts about surviving the 21st century: politicians must focus on big questions as well as small.

Australia21 empathy forum report
Click here for the report from the Australia21 empathy forum held in June.
What’s piquing our interest?
Research, reports or events bearing on our work as a think tank for the public good and sparking conversations.

Environment and democracy
South Australian citizens' jury votes against storing nuclear waste Two-thirds of a 350-strong jury of South Australian residents selected to be broadly representative of the population of South Australia voted against South Australia storing nuclear waste 'under any circumstances'. The Australia Institute contributed economic analysis to the deliberations.

What is a citizens' jury? New Democracy provides a definition of a citizens' jury.
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