Education in WA
In Western Australia, education for young people about volatile substance use (VSU) is currently provided via School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA). SDERA's range of evidence-based drug education resources for schools and early childhood services can be used to deliver age-appropriate content and key resilience, health and safety messages.
The Challenges and Choices resources are classroom-ready and ensure that school staff are providing a resilience approach to alcohol and other drug education as developmentally appropriate across the year levels. They also allow staff to meet the required social and emotional educational requirements of the Western Australian Curriculum for Health and Physical Education.
These resources recommend that information about VSU should not form part of the general drug education curriculum. Education on VSU is introduced via the resilience-building early childhood education materials in the context of medicines, hazardous substances and poisons rather than mainstream drug education. This is to avoid informing young people of volatile substances as a drug of intoxication and also to de-glamourise the behaviour.
Where a specific need is identified, a targeted approach undertaken by skilled personnel should be implemented. The intervention would be provided to current users of volatile substances and those assessed as being at risk of using. It should also be provided outside the classroom environment. Schools should seek support for the provision of any targeted intervention from their locally based Community Alcohol and Drug Service (CADS). Details can be provided through SDERA Consultants or found on the Mental Health Commission website.
A classroom response may be appropriate where prevalence of VSU is high or where there is widespread use. The decision about whether to include VSU in the curriculum should be targeted to suit the local situation.
Any education delivered to students around this issue should be offered alongside appropriate school-based intervention support. Examples of intervention support procedures and how to develop these in schools to support students at risk, can be found in SDERA's Getting it together: A whole school approach to drug education resource.
Schools should be encouraged to actively participate with SDERA and to engage with other stakeholders in a whole-of community approach, where appropriate and when there is incidence of VSU in the local area. This whole-of-community approach may include groups such as retailers, CADS, Local Drug Action Groups (LDAGs), police, youth groups and other specialist agencies.
SDERA can provide support for schools and the wider community as well as best-practice resilience, drug and road safety education. Community-based stakeholders can link to schools through their local SDERA Consultant. For contact details of the Consultant in your area, see the SDERA contact page.