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Landmark initiative to curb youth drug use



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Dr Carmen Lawrence Ministerial' Human Services and Health Minister Assisting the Prime Minister lor the Status of \\ omen

CL 33/96 31 January 1996

LANDMARK INITIATIVE TO CURB YOUTH DRUG USE

66% of students aged 12 - 17 have used alcohol.

26% of students aged 14 - 19 are regular smokers.

25% have used cannabis.

6% have taken amphetamines.

The Federal Government today launched the first stage of $3.2 million National Initiatives in Drug Education to curb this high incidence of drug use among Australia's young people.

"The 'Drug Education:Do It' series of teaching aids promotes drug education in all schools and at all levels," the Federal Minister for Human Services and Health, Carmen Lawrence, said today.

Launching the program with years 9 and 11 students at Brisbane's Dakabin High School, Dr Lawrence said it was a new- national effort that would take vital information on licit and illicit drugs into Australian schools.

"Too many young people are experimenting dangerously with drugs," the Minister said.

"The Drug Offensive has proven time and again that education is essential to achieving any change and while responsibility for drug education doesn't rest with teachers alone, they are a valuable way of reaching young people.

"This program will give teachers for the first time, practical guidance and methods to ensure their drug education classes are on the right track, giving young people the information they need to make informed decisions now for healthier adulthood."

The 'Drug Education: Do It' program is a series of four books with recommendations for drug education for young people across all ages.

The series is the result of extensive consultation with young people, teachers, parents and health professionals and will be distributed through the Education Department of all State and T e r r i t o r y G o v e r n m e n t s .

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Also today, the release of the findings of the latest census of Clients Treatment Service Agencies (COTSA).

"The census provides a snapshot of drug-related treatment across Australia and assists in determining our drug treatment needs," Dr Lawrence said.

"It also allows us to compare the substance abuse problems for which Australians are coming forward to seek help."

Dr Lawrence said today's results were collected just last year.

"The census shows a higher proportion of young people among the clients of drug and alcohol treatment agencies," Dr Lawrence said.

"On the day of this census more than a thousand young Australians 24 years old or younger sought treatment for drug use.

"Amphetamines and cannabis were the main problems among young substance abusers although the percentage of young people presenting with alcohol as their main drug problem had declined," Dr Lawrence said.

Note: Copies of the COTSA report are available from the Department of Human Services and Health on (0 6) 289 818l

Media Contact: Brenda Conroy 0412 414781