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Planning Safer Afterball Parties

28 June

A crowd of 17 and 18 year olds getting together for an afterball party may look like a recipe for mayhem.

But the Alcohol Advisory Council says it doesn’t have to be that way. It has produced a set of guidelines called Planning Parties to assist adults to work alongside young people to ensure afterball parties can be fun, safe and within the law.

ALAC’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy says: “Afterball parties do happen whether we like them or not. Young people are consuming alcohol. It is important that they do so within the law and safely. We want to achieve the best possible health and wellbeing for our young people. These guidelines will help schools and communities work with our young people and go some way towards instilling responsible and safe drinking practices at social events.”

He says in recent years there’s been a worrying trend for student-organised parties which are held after the school ball and which are all too often associated with excessive use of alcohol, little or no adult supervision and few safety measures in place.

Violence, drink driving crashes, property damage and unsafe sex have been associated with these unsupervised parties. “In many cases, what should be the social highlight of a young person’s school career has sometimes ended in devastating tragedy for the whole community,” says Dr MacAvoy.

With the increasing popularity of afterball parties many communities have already been assisting students to make these events safer. “Harm minimisation and host responsibility concepts have been key strategies in achieving this, for example, making sure there are non-alcoholic drinks and food, arranging security, safe transport and secure venues.

“We’ve had reports of afterball parties that have been incident free and the students have had a great night out. The key, we think, is for adults to work together with the students in the planning - it’s their party. Give them a hand. Be there, but you don’t need to intrude.”

The guidelines are directed at the adults who work with the young people and they highlight and interpret the legal issues that surround such events. They also offer suggestions to follow in planning the party. These include setting up a working party, establishing a budget, gaining sponsorship, choosing venues, security issues, transport and entertainment. A set of templates is included with sample letters for party organisers to alert and involve police, caregivers, boards of trustees and so on.

Dr MacAvoy says ALAC has worked with representatives from the community - including local police, health promoters, road safety coordinators and district licensing agencies and school principals - to provide the guidelines.

- Copies of Planning Parties: a resource for those working with students organising safe afterball parties can be downloaded from the ALAC’s website They are also available in printed form from ALAC’s regional offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Call free 0508 258 258.

- Check out ALAC’s website for tips for parents /alcohol and its effects\alcohol and your kids

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