Page 268 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I am very pleased to table the report Substance use and other health-related behaviours among ACT secondary students—the results of the 2002 ACT secondary student alcohol and drug survey. The secondary student alcohol and drug survey is conducted nationally every three years and the ACT participated in the survey in 1996, 1999 and 2002. The 2002 survey polled ACT students between 12 and 17 years of age on their use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances, including illicit substances, some protective behaviours, nutrition and levels of physical and leisure time activity.

Mr Speaker, a preliminary report on results from the 2002 survey, which focused on alcohol and tobacco use by secondary students in the ACT, was released in September 2003. The results suggested that there had been a significant decrease in current smoking rates in recent years, whilst alcohol consumption had remained relatively constant, with about 8 per cent of students reporting harmful levels of consumption. These results are very similar to national results. This latest report suggests that there has been a significant reduction in the levels of illicit substance use by secondary students in the ACT in recent years. Again, these results are very similar to national results.

Although the trends are encouraging, and most students who have used an illicit substance appear to be experimenters rather than regular users, the results also suggest that 7.6 per cent of students had used cannabis in the week before the survey. In addition, while needle use was not common among ACT students, 41 per cent of students who had ever used a needle to inject an illicit substance had shared a needle with someone else. The survey results also suggest that students in 2002 were less likely to engage in some protective practices than students in 1996 or 1999, and only a minority of ACT students met national nutrition and physical activity guidelines.

Clearly, we have to remain vigilant in our efforts. We cannot afford to become complacent. The government acknowledges the issues revealed in this report. We can use this information to tailor our education and prevention programs and make them more relevant to our students. Currently, our schools are working within the health promoting schools framework to address health issues in partnership with parents and carers, other agencies and the broader community. This is the most effective health promotion and prevention strategy.

We have awareness programs about illicit substance use in our secondary schools. In addition, our schools and community-based youth services have a range of programs aimed at helping young people with problematic drug use. We have also funded new initiatives, within both the health and education sectors, to combat childhood obesity and to promote physical activity and healthy eating among children and young people.

I encourage members to read this report. It provides an excellent overview of substances trends and other health-related behaviours among secondary students in the ACT.

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