THE State government has provided funding for a range of community based organisations, in a bid to support harm reduction strategies during 2012 School Leavers celebrations.
Recently Police Minister Lisa Harvey announced more than $200,000 in grants to not-for-profit organisations and local governments to provide support services and activities during the week long festivities.
WA AIDS Council CEO Andrew Burry says his organisation will provide sexual health support during Leavers Week as part of the Keep It Safe Summer program.
“It is important for us to ensure that we are visible and able to provide the young people with information around safer sex including resourcing them with condoms should they require them,” he says.
“For some of them who may drink too much and are vulnerable to making unsafe decisions, it is important to provide them with the skills and safe space to come to if they require.”
Mrs Harvey says the grants would go towards services focusing on addressing key problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption and the use of drugs; personal and community safety; unsafe sexual practice; and anti-social behaviours.
The WAAC will provide two support teams of volunteers each at Rottnest and Dunsborough.
“During this time we provide outreach to young people around sexual health, such as providing resources which include condom packs, talking one-on-one as well as in groups,” Mr Burry says.
“We run PITSTOP which is a health assessment project made up of a variety of stations which each assess a different aspect of the participants’ health and is in the format of a vehicle service inspection. For example one station is fuel additives which looks at alcohol intake, another is duco which looks at skin cancer and sparkplugs is the station that looks at sexual health.”
Mr Burry says WAAC is involved all year with the coordination and planning of the event, including attending support meetings with police and support agencies as well as working with communities to build capacity for staging these events.
“We ensure that volunteers are well trained and vetted prior to coming on board, and that we have a risk management strategy,” he says.
“The event is evaluated on an annual basis to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the young people and the requirements of the program.”
The State government estimates about 90 per cent of all leavers utilise Leavers Zones or activities with a 96 per cent reduction in the number of arrests since in 2004 when the Leavers Strategy was developed.