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09 January 2017


By Sam Menezes, Blogger

It has been a year since secondary supply laws were introduced in Western Australia.  Unfortunately, I believe the state government has not allocated enough funding for a sustained and comprehensive education campaign about not supplying alcohol to minors.

My hope for secondary supply legislation was not only its prosecution capabilities but its strong prospects to highlight facts such as:

-    No alcohol under 18 is the safest choice.

-    Information is available on the "Alcohol. Think Again." website.

-    Alcohol can affect brain development of minors and can have negative social and mental health consequences.

-    The power of positive adult role modelling in influencing adolescent behaviour.

-    Parental intolerance and non-supply of alcohol to minors reduces the consumption of alcohol.

-    The penalty for secondary supply to minors is a fine of $10,000.

While the campaign has made a good start, much more needs to be done to promote it effectively. For example, many parents are not clear about gaining permission from other parents to provide alcohol to minors at parties.

My advice is for direct communication between the host and the parent or guardian of the minor. A telephone call, text message or email conversation can be more effective than a permission slip (as signatures can be forged easily). This is also a good way for parents to connect and to know that their child is safe.

Better yet if any minors are present, do not supply or allow BYO of alcohol at all. This is a positive step toward changing the notion that every celebration must have alcohol. It shows young people that not all occasions require alcohol to have a great time with family and friends.

Another piece of advice is to never drop your child at a gathering without going to the door. A friend recently discovered that at a 16th birthday party her son was attending, the parents were not home. The parents were not aware of the party which was being supervised by their 21-year-old son who was actually selling alcohol to the minors! consequently her son returned home with her and did not remain at the gathering.

A journalist asked me recently if I was bothered that no one had been prosecuted for supplying alcohol to other people's children without the permission of their parents.  My response was that this legislation was not about how many people are prosecuted, but rather about educating the community as to why no alcohol should be supplied to those under 18.

Parents can play vital role in changing attitudes and helping their children to avoid the dangers of under-age alcohol consumption. If you would like more information, please visit http://alcoholthinkagain.com.au/


Sam Menezes is a well-respected blogger who played a vital role in advocating for the secondary supply law in WA.


08 December 2016

Hope beyond the bars of prison

Holyoake offers counselling programs to help people while in prison and also to transition back into the community. Cathy* describes how these programs helped her get back on her feet...

I remember lying on my prison bed thinking about the violent relationship I had been in, the physical and emotional abuse I endured and the effect it had on my children. I was scared, felt depressed, and turned to drugs to escape my reality. Very soon it got worse and I started selling drugs to feed my own habit. I was finally arrested and sent to prison.

That was seven years ago. So much has changed since.

Prison changed my life thanks mainly to the counselling and support I received through Holyoake. My counsellor helped me to believe that no matter how dark my past, there was always hope. I remember her telling me that it was never too late to change, to let change evolve, to develop a good relationship with myself, and to make time for family and friends.

Over time I learnt to recognise my triggers and to develop strategies to get me through the tough times. Each time I made progress, I grew more confident and felt encouraged to not give up. This is not easy and I continue to work on it.

I completed my parole a few months ago and am more confident now. I feel stronger to take on the many problems I still face and am grateful for the continued support from Holyoake.

I am sharing my story because I hope it will help others who may be in a similar situation. Holyoake taught me to hope and never give up, and I'm sure they can help you too.

*Name changed on request

20 September 2016

It is hard to imagine what goes through the mind of someone who contemplates the extreme choice of taking one's own life. Unfortunately it is not uncommon in Australia as the average number of deaths rose to 3,027 in 2015*. That's more than 8 lives per day!

Sadly, the rate of suicide in Western Australia is above the national average; we lose a life almost every day. The impact of this is felt deeply and affects the entire community. The Mental Health Commission is determined to reverse this with its 'Suicide Prevention 2020 strategy.'
Suicide Prevention 2020 is based on evidence from the latest research and recommendations. It acknowledges that the biggest risk factor is mental illness or a previous suicide attempt; young people, Aboriginal people and people who use alcohol or other drugs are also identified as a greater risk.

The strategy seeks to balance investment in community awareness and stigma reduction, mental health and suicide prevention training and coordinated services for high risk groups.

Among the many initiatives is the placement of a Suicide Prevention Coordinator as part of Holyoake's Community Alcohol & Drug Services (CADS) team in the Wheatbelt.
Holyoake has appointed Jo Drayton - a highly experienced suicide prevention specialist - to coordinate the Suicide Prevention 2020 strategy across 200 communities and 42 local government areas in the Wheatbelt. She will work with existing services and organisations to form many collaborative partnerships. The main areas of areas of focus will be:
  •  Facilitating suicide prevention and mental health training to professionals, para-professionals and communities;
  • Working with local stakeholders to strengthen suicide prevention protocols and map pathways to appropriate services and supports;
  • Increasing service capacity to identify and respond to suicide and related mental health issues;
  • Providing suicide post-vention coordinated responses and support to families and communities following incidents;
  • Promoting mentally healthy work places;
  • Supporting existing working groups and steering communities to better meet the needs of their communities;
  • Coordinating public education campaigns and events to create community dialogue and inspire action in the area of suicide prevention.

Every suicide is tragic not just for the person, but for the family, friends and broader community as well. The Suicide Prevention 2020 strategy aims for a holistic approach to encourage everyone to play a role in saving lives. Suicide is preventable; together we can save lives.

* Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death 2015


20 September 2016
DRUMBEAT Quest for All WA Primary Schools

DRUMBEAT Quest is the latest addition to Holyoakes universally successful DRUMBEAT program. This unique computer game and associated facilitator resources have been designed to empower students with the knowledge and skills to build healthy and supportive relationships, make informed decisions, and to take responsibility for their actions based on an understanding of self and social awareness.

We can now announce that, with thanks to sponsorship by a private donor, all Western Australian schools are invited to apply for a 50% subsidy on the cost of DRUMBEAT Quest Package purchases.

Our goal is to have this life changing program in every school across Western Australia and beyond. This subsidy is the beginning of this vision.

Research shows that developing social and emotional skills is crucial to being able to cope with lifes ups and downs, as well as being successful in the workplace and a valuable member of the community. Social and emotional learning can reduce risky behaviours such as violence, bullying, alcohol and drug use and social isolation.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) summarises evidence of the impact of supporting students social and emotional learning. Students demonstrate improved attitudes and behaviours, with greater motivation to learn and better classroom behaviour, and experience less emotional distress such as anxiety, depression, stress and social withdrawal. Students also demonstrate better academic performance with fewer disruptive class behaviours and disciplinary referrals.

The game delves into themes and issues that are central to students health and wellbeing. The game is a highly engaging learning platform that challenges and rewards players as they master the rhythms and light the Beacons. Drawing analogies from gameplay, students can explore social issues in a safe and meaningful way. Examining individual strategies and motivations in a classroom setting provides rich and diverse subject for discussion, promoting self and social awareness.

DRUMBEAT Quest is available in the Desktop Professional Package for Windows and Mac or in the Tablet Professional Package for iPads. More details at www.drumbeatquest.com

17 August 2016

For 18-24 year olds gaining greater awareness of their substance use

Life can be challenging as we move from our teenage years into our twenties. The use of alcohol and other drugs use may move from experimentation to dependence, causing undesirable problems. It can affect our health, relationships and mental wellbeing. Over time we can start to lose interest in things we once enjoyed and can find ourselves isolated from loved ones.

Holyoake offers a special Young Adult's Program that helps young people to work through their challenges. It provides support with the latest information, peer discussion and practical skills.

Come and explore who you are and what you want in life in a safe, non-judgemental and supportive environment.

Every Wednesday 6pm - 8pm
75 Canning Highway, Vic Park
Call Client Services on 9416 4444 or email clientservices@holyoake.org.au

21 July 2016

My son is finally enjoying the childhood he so deserves
Holyoake's Art and Play Program reaches out to mothers with a history of alcohol and/or drugs, and their children. It aims to build the mother-child relationship while reducing stress, providing support and improving communication. Rebecca* experienced the benefits of this program and shares her story...

"Looking back, I felt that no one was really there for me, someone I could trust and confide in. That's why I turned to self-medication to fill the gap.  Unfortunately that was not the answer and only made the situation worse... for me and all those around me.
The biggest loser was my little son with whom I lost that beautiful mother-child bond. I was too absorbed in my own addictions to devote quality time to him.

At the time I didn't know where to turn.  My family tried their best, but I rebelled. It was hard to face the truth because of my shame, but I realised that no one could help me if I didn't.

Finally I turned to Holyoake for help, and attended the Art and Play Program with my son. From the very beginning we felt so much at home. We were gently guided by our Counsellor to laugh and enjoy each other again. Slowly it brought the tenderness and trust back into our relationship.

We enjoyed the activities in the sessions. We looked into each other's eyes as parent and child and just learnt to be really present.  We began to trust one another and experienced the joy and love of the parent-child interaction - that is, unconditional love.
I think Art and Play is so helpful for parents to get the connection back with their children.  In addiction we scare them.  They then get reserved because they don't know how the parent will react.

I'm so grateful for the care, compassion, understanding and non-judgemental approach at Holyoake. I now have my son living with me full time.  A year ago he never received a merit certificate at school because of his behaviour, now he is proud to have two! I think he is finally enjoying the childhood he so deserves.

I truly believe that Art and Play can help parents connect with their children in a special way. I have experienced it, and so can you!"
*Former Holyoake client. Name changed on request.

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