A community-initiated binge drinking awareness campaign in Indigenous communities is working, according to new results released this week by researchers at James Cook University’s Cairns Institute.
The Beat da Binge initiative, developed by Gindaja Treatment and Healing Indigenous Corporation in partnership with other local community organisations, focuses on binge drinking as a key concern in the North Queensland Indigenous community of Yarrabah.
The two-year $250,000 project, funded through the Federal Government’s National Binge Drinking Strategy, targets greater involvement of young Indigenous people in gaining evidence about binge drinking behaviours, and analysing and influencing the possible causes of binge drinking.
The multi-disciplinary research team, which worked collaboratively on the project with the Yarrabah community, included researchers from James Cook UNiversity’s Cairns Institute, the University of Newcastle, and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.
Professor Komla Tsey, who led The Cairns Institute research team, said the results released to Yarrabah project partners this week showed that the local Aboriginal community had taken positive steps to ensure that their young people have a healthy future.
The results indicate that since the start of Beat da Binge in 2011, there are now: 16 per cent fewer young binge drinkers in Yarrabah; a 27 per cent increase in awareness of binge drinking; a 16 per cent increase in awareness of what a standard drink is; a reduction in the drinking of spirits.
The final report on the Beat da Binge initiative, which is expected to be released in June this year, will also include the health and other social benefits of fewer young people binge drinking.
“Like most young Australians, many young people in Yarrabah drink with the intent to get drunk – they binge drink,” Professor Tsey said.
“But what we really wanted to explore, is why young people drink at harmful levels and what can be done to change this behaviour?
“Our survey showed that young people in Yarrabah drink because they are ‘bored’ – but bored did not mean there was not enough entertainment.
“Young people described ‘bored’ as meaning that there was a lack of purpose and meaning in life, training, employment or activities.
“As a result, and more importantly, these same young adults also articulated their solutions to being bored, which I think is a really positive step forward.
“For example, they highlighted they wanted further mentoring in education, training and employment.”
Gindaja Treatment and Healing Indigenous Corporation Chief Executive Officer Ailsa Lively said it was important young people in Yarrabah were involved in much of the project’s design and decision-making, and in running related community events.
“Young people were also engaged to conduct surveys and sit on the project steering committee,” Ms Lively said.
“I’m sure that this community-driven approach is a major reason why we have been able to see such positive results from this project.”
The Beat da Binge meeting held in Yarrabah this week also saw discussions take place about continuing the partnership to help define future directions for young people in Yarrabah on a more sustainable basis.
Issued March 22, 2013
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