However, Newton was also concerned by the potential impact of a lack of exposure to party environments and related education in schools.
Last week, Newton and her colleagues published a small study comparing the adult drinking habits of a cohort of NSW and Victorian year 8 students who took part in an alcohol education program between 2012 and 2014 to a control group, finding the program was associated with the reduced odds of monthly binge-drinking and hazardous alcohol use seven years on.
After taking a hiatus over the pandemic, this term South Eastern Sydney Local Health District’s trauma team has restarted its Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth (PARTY) Program.
While the program, first run in 2016, initially brought year 10 students to the trauma ward at St George Hospital, it has been adapted to recreate the experience in schools, using, among other tools, a pop-up inflatable simulation resuscitation room.
Police representatives and a person with experience in trauma speak to the students, who also watch a re-enactment of a resuscitation conducted by paramedic students and conduct activities to understand the impact of alcohol on the body – including wearing beer goggles.
Sarah O’Hare, clinical nurse consultant on the program, said she was concerned when the program had to be suspended due to visitor restrictions in hospitals because she knew it was important for students.
“Every time you speak to students you are reminded that they don’t often understand the long-term consequence [of risk-taking behaviour],” she said.
“Rehabilitation, permanent disability and injury, potentially death. They are very unaware of the impact.”
Heathcote High School principal Stephen Waser said he had not received reports of an increase in risk-taking behaviour among students after lockdown from the community, but risk-taking was always a factor in teenage behaviour.
“What we need to do is reinforce the messages. Is it something new? Do we think it’ll get to zero? No. But by doing this we can hopefully get close to that.”
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