Hepburn is one of three Victorian and 10 Australian communities to be chosen by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation to trial an internationally acclaimed model from Iceland to reduce alcohol and drug use among young people.
Called Planet Youth, the program was introduced in Iceland in the nineties and has transformed alcohol and drug use rates from some of the highest in Europe to amongst the lowest. It has since been adopted in 20 other countries.
The Local Drug Action Teams taking part in the trial have been selected for their strong local partnerships and commitment to preventing alcohol and drug-related harms. Hepburn Health Service will be partnering with Hepburn Shire, Daylesford Secondary College, Victoria Police, Neighborhood Houses and local community members to deliver the trial which will take place over the next two and a half years.
Planet Youth is about boosting opportunities and connections that act as protective factors for young people. Increasing these opportunities for positive connections with family, peers, and community help ensure youth have more positive health and wellbeing outcomes now and into their future.
This project builds on the highly successful youth program, The Cook, the Chef and Us in Hepburn, which engaged with secondary students to improve their mental health and wellbeing and reduce harm caused by alcohol and other drugs and keep them engaged in education through using hospitality as an alternative learning vehicle.
“To be chosen as a pilot site for the Planet Youth Program is a great acknowledgement of the strong organisational and community partnerships that our Hepburn Local Drug Action Team demonstrates. Our LDAT has strengthened our ability to effectively support young people in our community and this will enhance the work currently undertaken by helping to have a deeper understanding of our local community profile. We are thrilled to be working closely with the Alcohol and Drug Foundation in this important trial that promises to bring so much value to young people who live in Hepburn Shire”, Says Belinda Buck, Population Health Coordinator at Hepburn Health Service.
Trialling ‘Planet Youth’ across the Hepburn Shire region will not only enhance the work currently undertaken with the youth, but it will also identify other potential local programs by improved relationships with local youth and through assessing current local community capacity. Local Drug Action Team programs recognises that no community is the same as the next and that locally-led responses are vital when it comes to preventing and minimising harm caused by alcohol and other drugs. Planet Youth shows that long term investment in community-led prevention leads to significant reductions in alcohol and other drugs.