Year 6 students from Tamworth Public School were this month among the first in the nation to take part in Life Education’s Decisions module, which includes information about legal as well as illegal drugs, with a focus on decision making and personal choices in risk situations.
While Life Education’s program – which has been running in Australian schools for 36 years – has always discussed legal drugs such as tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, this is the first time it has covered content in relation to illegal drugs in its primary school program.
Life Education NSW CEO, Kellie Sloane said it is vital that we arm our children with as much information as possible about the dangers and effects of harmful behaviours.
“We want to ensure that students really understand the facts so they can make informed decisions. The new module supports 10-14 year-olds to develop an understanding of the impact of alcohol and other drug use; build their capacity to make responsible, safe and informed decisions, and develop their ability to manage challenging situations effectively.”
Tamworth Public School Deputy Principal, Barry Everingham said that while their school focus was on legal drugs – which cause the most harm – children will often bring up illicit or illegal drugs in conversation.
“Life Education educators and teachers in the school deal with such discussions sensitively and factually. Students are taught the skills necessary to make safe decisions if they find themselves in risk-taking situations. They are advised to discuss such matters with family and other trusted adults,” Mr Everingham said.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson supported the launch, and said Life Education is playing an important role in the local Ice Action Group’s three key areas of education, rehabilitation and support.
“We know that educating young people about the dangers associated with drugs can have an effect on their future choices which is why this program could have wide spread benefits in our community.”
Life Education NSW also hosted a community forum to mark the launch of the module, held in Tamworth on November 14.
Among the speakers at the evening meeting were Tamworth mother and anti-drug advocate Tracey Filicietti, Deputy Principal of Gunnedah High School Wayne Wood, Tamworth ambulance paramedic Ray Tait and Cigdem Watson from Centacare New England North West.
Kellie Sloane said the community discussion was positive, with residents determined to face the drug problem head on.
“It was a positive event, the community really engaged in lots of questions,” she said.
“There was an open conversation about drugs and as parents, how we can manage drugs in our community and in our home.
“There was recognition by some of the experts in the room that the problem of ice is a big one, and it is magnified by the way some of the addicts react and behave and it can be quite violent.
“In areas like Tamworth, the problem is bigger than city areas and there is a real acceptance about how we get on and manage it,” Ms Sloane said.
Ms Sloane said the next step on Life Education’s behalf was to arm kids with the right tools to make decisions later in life.
"We would like to thank the community for supporting the event, including Wests' Diggers Club who provided the venue. ClubsNSW is a major supporter of Life Education NSW, helping us to bring vital health and safety messages to children across the state," Ms Sloane said.
CEO of Wests Entertainment Group, Rod Laing said, "I commend Life Education NSW on empowering children and young people to make safer and healthier choices through education for more than 35 years."