Sid­ef­fect: Drug Ed­u­ca­tion

Sid­ef­fect is a Not for Profit or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­mot­ing drug ed­u­ca­tion in schools.

The Australian Education Reporter - - CONTENTS - EMMA DAVIES

IN 2013, Pre­ston Bridge died after con­sum­ing a syn­thetic drug at his high school ball after-party.

His fa­ther Rod­ney Bridge es­tab­lished Sid­ef­fect along with for­mer Ea­gles cham­pion Chris Water­man and cor­po­rate busi­ness­man David Hobbs, with the aim to ed­u­cate about the dan­gers of syn­thetic drug use.

“Sid­ef­fect is the le­gacy of my son who lost his life at the age of 16 by mak­ing one un­in­formed de­ci­sion,” Mr Bridge said.

“Let’s stop our kids from play­ing Rus­sian roulette and arm them with knowl­edge,” he said.

In 2015, Mr Bridge in­fil­trated Chi­nese drug gangs ex­port­ing to Aus­tralia and saw first­hand the deadly in­gre­di­ents used in pro­duc­tion of syn­thetic sub­stances.

The dan­ger­ous stunt proved that large quan­ti­ties of syn­thetic drugs could eas­ily be smug­gled into the coun­try un­de­tected by snif­fer dogs.

“We can make an im­pres­sion on kids be­cause we tell them what’s in th­ese sub­stances,” Mr Hobbs said.

“Once they hear that meth’s got bat­tery acid, phos­pho­rous, lime - all th­ese things that you’d buy at Bun­nings - they don’t want to go down that path.”

In July the pro­gram was launched to 2600 stu­dents in WA at Church­lands Se­nior High School.

“Our goal is to open up con­ver­sa­tion be­tween par­ents, their chil­dren and fam­i­lies alike,” Mr Hobbs said.

“Be­tween 75 to 80 per cent of kids that have seen our pre­sen­ta­tion then talk to mum and dad about it. So we know that it works.”

The United Na­tions Of­fice on Drugs and Crime World Drug Re­port 2017 puts Aus­tralia among the largest con­sumers of meth in the world and a study from the Na­tional Drug and Al­co­hol Re­search Cen­tre showed re­gional ar­eas ac­count for 40 per cent of metham­phetamine- re­lated deaths.

Sid­ef­fect is tack­ling this statis­tic and us­ing sport as an ed­u­ca­tional tool to reach re­gional and Indige­nous youth.

“Sport gives us a great plat­form and ex­cuse to visit th­ese re­mote com­mu­ni­ties to de­liver such an im­por­tant mes­sage,” Mr Water­man said.

“Our very graphic pre­sen­ta­tion is hard hit­ting and straight to the point.

“By the end of this pre­sen­ta­tion you will be well in­formed of the dan­gers of th­ese drugs, and you will re­alise you have One Life, One Choice.”

Sid­ef­fect is also de­vel­op­ing an on­line cur­ricu­lum called the Or­ange Stu­dent Card and has built an in­ter­ac­tive bus to take the pre­sen­ta­tion into the com­mu­nity.

“We wanted it to be an open dis­cus­sion,” Mr Hobbs said.

“Ice costs Aus­tralia $ 4.4 bil­lion in health care, crime and eco­nomic value each year.”

Mr Hobbs be­lieves an early in­ter­ven­tion strat­egy is needed to com­bat the prob­lem.

“The Sid­ef­fect strat­egy em­u­lates a strat­egy used in Mon­tana - which went from the 5th largest meth con­sumer in the world to the 39th in two years,” Mr Hobbs said.

The Mon­tana Meth Project used hard hit­ting tele­vi­sion, ra­dio, print, on­line, and so­cial me­dia cam­paigns to com­mu­ni­cate the risks of meth use.

The project is cred­ited for the 63 per cent de­cline in teen meth use in Mon­tana since 2005.

“Some­body in Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment needs to stand up and lis­ten and look at this strat­egy be­cause it works. Mon­tana would be no dif­fer­ent to Aus­tralia,” Mr Hobbs said.

“Let’s stop our kids from play­ing Rus­sian roulette and arm them with knowl­edge.”

Chris Water­man, David Hobbs and Rod Bridge with the Sid­ef­fect in­ter­ac­tive bus.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.