'The Truth About Forever' drug & alcohol workshops

Beverley is a vibrant rural community with a population of 1700 located in the western central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, approximately 140km east of Perth. The Shire is home to a highly productive broad acre farming industry with a smaller diversified agricultural base, such as perennial horticulture, also finding a home here. Like many small regional towns, it faces its own challenges in relation to youth engagement and drugs and alcohol within the community.

The Beverley Community Resource Centre (CRC) recognised that older youth within the community who are in the high risk category due to boredom and limited social interaction, are easily introduced to drugs and alcohol as a means of dealing with issues such as peer pressure that contributes to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and self-harming.

Workshop teaches youth to 'Just Say No'

A $3,500 grant funded by the McCusker Charitable Foundation, via FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities program, enabled the Beverley CRC to engage workshop facilitators to sensitively address these important topics. A total of 112 students, teachers and support staff attended the free youth seminar held in November last year. Keynote speakers Jade and Tristan Lewis expounding on the workshop’s ‘The Truth About Forever’ theme, outlining the real dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, dealing with peer pressure and understanding the drug culture.  Their ‘Just Say No’ message helped equip workshops attendees with the tools and techniques to positively say no to drugs and alcohol, focusing on awareness, prevention and early intervention.

In addition to the keynote speakers, local policeman Nick Jacobs discussed how drugs and alcohol impact the community, what to expect from the law officers and system if you are using or taking illegal drugs and alcohol, and how you become a ‘person of interest’ if you are involved in this type of illegal activity. The students were full of questions and Nick answered many of the students’ questions with honesty, humour and a hint of police authority.

Extra activities enhance project outcomes

The CRC was able to add extra activities to the event, thanks to support from various organisations throughout the community. The Shire of Beverley sponsored an Urban Art Project; RDA Wheatbelt Youth Connections sponsored a sausage sizzle lunch for all attendees; and the Noongar Sports donated their time to run a series of sporting activities during the breaks.

Glenys Lane, Chair of the Beverley CRC Board, said that she was very pleased with the outcomes of the program.

“Our key outcome was met according to the number of schools and students who attended, although numbers fell slightly short due to one of the larger schools not attending.

“Educating our youth to handle peer pressure when it is involving illegal drugs and / or alcohol is always a sensitive subject as many students are in very different social units; some children have not been exposed to illegal drugs while others may already have been offered them by older peers. Another factor is that some students may live with parents or carers who are using illegal drugs, and most students have seen or been around alcohol within their family or social unit,” Ms Lane said.

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