Working with the media

As a local service provider, you may be contacted by the media to comment on a volatile substance use (VSU) issue in your location. While your first instinct may be to raise community awareness to the issue, this may inadvertently cause more harm than good.

The guidelines below can assist agencies to reduce the negative impact of sensational stories about VSU:

  • Appoint a media liaison person to manage media requests
  • Ensure all staff are aware of the agency’s media liaison procedures
  • Develop a positive relationship with local editors and reporters
  • If necessary, prepare a media statement which should be approved by your agency’s management prior to release
  • Provide staff with training in media management 
  • Balance negative stories by providing positive news stories about young people and agency work

For further information or support, contact the Assistant Director Strategic Communications at the Mental Health Commission.

Promoting local contact numbers

Media outlets should be encouraged to provide contact details for counselling, referral and further information about volatile substances. In Western Australia these are:

Alcohol and Drug Support Line (ADSL)

(08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024 (toll free for country callers)

A free, confidential telephone counselling, information and referral service for anyone concerned about their own or another’s alcohol and other drug use. Available 24 hours, 7 days-a-week.

Parent and Family Drug Support Line (PFDSL)

(08) 9442 5050 or 1800 653 203 (toll free for country callers)

A free, confidential, alcohol or other drug telephone counselling and referral service for parents and families. Available 24 hours, 7 days-a-week. Callers can choose to speak to a professional counsellor or a trained parent volunteer with personal experience of alcohol and other drug use in their family.