School policy guidelines

  • Provide well-targeted, VSU interventions where necessary, rather than a whole-of-school approach for specific VSU issues. These should be supported by generic drug education and health promoting programs and policies. If a problem arises in the school, consider a targeted lesson to those directly involved.  Specialist services may be required - Community Alcohol and Drug Service (CADS) can assist. Your local SDERA Consultant (see below for contact details) can support with this process.
  • Develop an intelligence system (e.g. students, school support services staff, local CADS) to provide an early warning of volatile substance and other drug use outbreaks. Where an issue is identified within the school or local community, additional programs should be implemented to target those assessed as being at risk of using, or current users of, volatile substances.
  • Attempt to keep those identified as volatile substance users at school. Provide incentives and goal setting to reduce truanting. Consider alternatives to exclusion from school for anti-social behaviour.  Develop close agency links and referral protocols with your local CADS (see SDERA's Getting it together resource for strategies to achieve this).
  • Involve parents where possible and practical. Inform parents of VSU incidents, offer guidance (e.g. brochure and/or meeting with staff) for managing volatile substance-related issues, and ask for input into management where appropriate.
  • Ensure that the school’s drug management guidelines are well known and practised and that key personnel have a copy of, and are familiar with, the school’s guidelines for managing drug use issues, including VSU (see SDERA's Getting it together resource for strategies to achieve this).
  • Provide resources, training and support to school staff regarding VSU. SDERA's suite of resources and Professional Learning Workshops can assist in developing staff confidence and competence in supporting students with VSU issues.
  • Provide a safe environment: encourage the use of products which don't contain solvents. Ban or limit the use of certain products (e.g. solvent-based 'white-out', xylene marker pens, solvent-based glues). 
  • Ensure regular review and evaluation of general drug and volatile substance-specific policies and procedures.
  • If a person is intoxicated by volatile substances, do not chase or frighten as this could lead to sudden sniffing death. Remove intoxicant/s, provide fresh air and stay with the student until the effects wear off.