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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2279 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Within the education sector, the drug education framework for ACT schools was implemented in 1999. It addresses harm reduction, health promoting schools, protocols for managing drug-related incidents in schools and the administration of prescribed medication policy. The drug education project for school communities in the ACT is recognised as a cross-sectoral, comprehensive program providing effective drug education for all schools-government and non-government-in the ACT.

Additionally, grants were provided to four schools through this program to engage kindergarten to year 7 and year 10 students in a process of formal learning about health and drugs. The process included innovative learning programs and provided parents and carers with the opportunity to transfer drug education to the home through critical conversations with their children.

The DIRECTIONS@College program has successfully operated in a number of colleges. Government health and education agencies support this program, providing a drug referral information centre worker to visit each college in an outreach capacity for several hours each week.

Over 20 drug summits have been conducted in the Canberra region through the local school community drugs summits program. These are based on a whole school community approach and have successfully engaged many students, parents and community agency workers in these drug-related education programs.

Professional development for teachers is also conducted through the drug education project for school communities in the ACT. This includes assistance in using information technology to deliver effective drug education in schools; a teacher support package to provide a kindergarten to year 12 drug education curriculum; a training package for primary called Smoke screen: a smoking prevention resource; and information on how to become a health promoting school (kindergarten to year 12). There have also been workshops on drug policy development.

It is important that drug education programs are developed to respond to the developmental needs of and the lifestyle differences among students. We need to tailor programs to the target group and its stages of development. The needs of primary school students are very different to those of high school or college students. For example, a program on safe injecting delivered at high schools is very different to one on syringe safety delivered to primary school students, and appropriately so.

Evaluation of drug education programs is a current focus at the national level. Evaluation of the National School Drug Education Strategy has commenced. Outcomes will inform future areas of development for drug education programs in schools and the broader community. Recent research conducted in the ACT through this program has revealed that more parents are attending drug education programs conducted by a number of schools. Further work needs to be done nationally on the validity of externally delivered drug education programs. Guidelines for accessing externally sourced drug education programs in the ACT are outlined in the framework.

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