Life Education is part of the national strategy to reduce the harms of drug misuse in our society. It works in partnership with community organisations, law enforcement, government, education and health providers.
Educating our children early and preparing them for life is vital if we are to reduce drug taking in our society. Life Education plays an important role in the education process by supporting schools, families and their communities to ensure they receive the best possible programs available that will support them to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Our national strategy to reduce the harms of drug taking in our society is supported by the change in drug taking patterns.
Statistics (Statistics on drug use in Australia 2004, AIHW) show that:
- Daily smoking rates for Australians aged 14 years and over have declined by 40% between 1985 and 2004.
- 10.7% of teenagers 14-19 years smoke daily and 17.4% of the population 14+ smoke daily.
- The good news is that 4 out of 5 teenagers (83.3%) have never smoked.
- The pattern of alcohol consumption by the Australian population has remained relatively unchanged over the period 1991 to 2004.
- The recent use of marijuana/cannabis in 2004 (11%) was the lowest proportion seen in the last 13-years.
- There were 12,000 fewer Heroin users in 2004 than in 2001 with 0.2% of the population reporting recent use
- There were 12,000 fewer users in 2004 than in 2001 with 0.2% of the population reporting recent use.
2. How do I know that my support is really going to make a difference to a child’s life?
It depends on what you mean by ‘make a difference’. This has a number of interpretations - depending on whether drug education programs are attempting to persuade children never to try drugs, persuade those who have started to give it up or even to delay the decision until they are more mature to can make a more informed choice.
We aim to give children and their families accurate information about legal and illegal drugs within the context of making healthy life choices. It is widely recognized that increasing knowledge and understanding are important components of behavioral change.
Our aim is to help children make positive healthy choices using teaching methods and context based on the latest research and evidence on effective drug education strategies.
Your support will directly help us to do the research, train the Educators and develop contemporary, well researched, stimulating programs that will equip a child to make a positive health decision.
3. Why are you focusing your programs on primary schools, when the real drug problem is in high schools?
Primary schools play a vital role in preparing children for life and in shaping their journey through school. We are focusing on primary schools as research shows that the earlier we encourage children to develop positive self image, self esteem and a feeling of uniqueness, the better equipped they are to make positive healthy choices later in life.
4. You say you provide drug education, but I notice that many of the children that go through your program are too young to learn about drugs. What is the focus of your programs to children under 10 years old, and are they necessary?
Providing age appropriate information about specific drugs and their effects or harms is only a small component of primary school drug education. In the primary school context, drug education is provided within the broad curriculum framework for Health and Well-being.
Drug education is learning about the health of the body, how it works and how it best works. We start by teaching children how to make healthy choices. Learning information about food, exercise and the body combined with social skills aimed to provide them with the confidence to make informed choices. As they progress through the primary years we examine in a well balanced way how drugs like medicines, alcohol, nicotine and illegal substances may adversely affect them and we explore a variety of coping mechanisms to deal with pressure situations.
If a child understands the importance of the right, healthy habits, feels supported and has a positive sense of self worth, from an early age, this reinforces our view that the child is unique and does not need to capitulate to unnecessary external pressures.
5. Why should I support Life Education, when the government already provides a drug education program in schools?
Governments do provide drug education programs. We work closely with each State and Territory Governments to ensure our programs dove-tail with their curriculum. But children need a variety of interactive, learning experiences to enhance the learning process.
Interactive programs require teachers to have specialized skills in facilitating student-centred learning. The Life Education program, through our highly trained educators, provides a springboard for classroom teachers to effectively utilize the government programs in a more interactive and inclusive manner.
The unique nature of the delivery of the Life Education program raises it to stand out in the minds of children. It is very common for young adults in their 20’s and 30’s to recall the Life Education experience that they received in school.
6. So, is your program better than what the government provides?
We would not claim that the Life Education program is better than the government program, we just take a different approach that complements and supports the government program. We work very closely with individual teachers and schools to ensure that a highly effective outcome for the children is achieved.
Our educators visit the school prior to the arrival of the Life Education mobile learning centre, to ensure the programs support and complement the school curriculum and any changes are made to meet the individual needs of the school.
Support material is provided to the teachers and students to assist with the ongoing learning in the classroom and to enhance the total educational experience for the children.
We estimate, that through a Life Education program, a minimum of 15 hours of face to face education and interaction is provided for each child each year.
7. Isn’t this really the job of the teacher?
Teachers are best placed to provide drug education as part of an ongoing school program. But teachers need to be supported in this central role. Research shows that resourcing and supporting teachers is critical to effectively implement drug education.
The Life Education Program takes a holistic approach in supporting schools. Not only does the program provide a fun, interactive learning experience for children but it also supports teachers by providing:
Our commitment to supporting the whole school is a major factor in helping teachers have the confidence to implement successful classroom programs.
- materials to be integrated into their classroom teaching
- teacher professional development to extend their skills and knowledge
- demonstration of effective teaching strategies to maximize student learning and engagement.
- take-home activities to encourage parent and family involvement
8. Isn’t this the job of parents?
We agree that parents have a very important role to play in shaping their child’s’ life, as do schools. The reality however, is that our children are affected by many influences when they are growing up and our aim is to help schools, parents and others in the community to work together to promote positive healthy messages to our children. The involvement of families and the community in drug education programs can increase the likelihood of their effectiveness and promote longer lasting results.
9. If their family life is dysfunctional, shouldn’t you be teaching the parents as well as the kids? Otherwise, is this a waste of time?
Parents are a major influence on the drug-taking behavior of their children through their modeling of behavior as well as their attitudes and family relationships. Parents need drug education themselves to be effective in helping their children. Through our parent education programs and family nights, Life Education helps to increase communication in families to promote positive attitudes towards healthy behaviors.
10.Life Education has been around for a long time, but the drug problem just seems to be getting worse. Is it?
The drug problem is not getting worse in this country…..it is getting different!
The recent statistics published in the Australian Household survey indicates some very good results in terms of the decline of the abuse of drugs. Smoking rates are down, marijuana use is the lowest it has been in the last 13 years and heroin use has dropped. Alcohol consumption has remained relatively unchanged but the way in which our young people are drinking is very much a concern. The Australian image of ‘boozing to excess’ and ‘binge drinking’ still needs to be addressed. The increase in the use of illicit drugs amongst our youth in recreational settings is a major concern. These issues however cannot be addressed through education alone. Role-modeling by parents and key community figures and careless media reporting are amongst the issues we still need to tackle.