The Go! program.
THREE developed the Go! program at the request of Mallee District Aboriginal Services as an alcohol and other drug prevention program for kids aged eight to twelve years old. We developed the program from the literature and evidence regarding what is effective in drug prevention for this age group, and in accordance with Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) policies and principles. We worked closely with Aboriginal workers from MDAS to ensure that the program was culturally appropriate and relevant, and conceptualised activities around three major themes:
1. Prevention and harm-minimisation focused curriculum: Age appropriate curriculum activities taken from resources endorsed and/or developed by DET. These activities focus on drugs of which students are most aware, including tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and prescription drugs, and do not explore "hard drugs" in any depth unless they are raised by the students themselves. This follows DET guidelines for drug prevention programs for this age group.
2. Understanding and addressing risk and protective factors: This theme uses photography and other participatory approaches to assist students to identify aspects of the community that either help children to stay safe and healthy or those that lead to risk of harm. Content generated from this activity informs discussion in the program, and is also used in the development of a photographic exhibition focused on children's experiences of their local community. This theme recognises the research evidence that states that relevant drug-prevention programs must understand and be based on relevant risk and protective factors for participants.
3. Building positive connections around the child between family, school and community: Students learn about and explore the pro-social opportunities and services their community offers. This includes understanding the work of local and relevant community services and supports, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, and sporting and recreation opportunities in and around Mildura. Students also present activities and hold an art exhibition at a community event to which their families are individually invited.
WHAT'S HAPPENED SO FAR? The Go! program provides 20 hours of intensive group work with a small number of children, as well as an evening session for families and school staff to learn directly from their children about alcohol and other drugs, and an exhibition of student art works and photography. The program has been successfully completed five times, in four different schools. Follow up after six and twelve months shows positive recall of the program and participant retention of key learnings from the program.