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Groups Support Alcohol-Free Upper Hutt Schools

HEALTH GROUPS SUPPORT ALCOHOL-FREE UPPER HUTT SCHOOLS

Media Release:
ALAC, New Zealand Drug Foundation, Alcohol Healthwatch

Embargoed until 12:01am Friday 17 November 2006

The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), New Zealand Drug Foundation and Alcohol Healthwatch are applauding an alcohol-free school grounds policy adopted by all 21 of Upper Hutt's primary and secondary schools.

The policy, which comes into force on 17 November, is in response to what local principals say are increasing problems resulting from people drinking on school grounds after hours. Vandalism, intimidation, unsightly litter and broken glass left scattered around play areas are just some of the problems teachers and caretakers have to deal with.

NZ Drug Foundation Director Ross Bell says, "Communities often despair about the harm alcohol causes, especially to young people, yet feel powerless to take action.

"New Zealand needs to change its drinking culture - and this needs to be achieved through political leadership, as well as community action. It's good to see these schools making a stand to ensure the school environment is a safe one."

Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams says having all schools in the area committed to the policy will help ensure a consistent message.

"With Upper Hutt schools and the Police presenting a united front, the policy is much more likely to be effective. It's great to see a community taking action on some of the safety issues related to unauthorised alcohol consumption."

"By their very nature schools should be safe havens," says ALAC acting Chief Executive Officer Sandra Kirby. "Preventing unauthorised drinking in schools will lead to a safer environment for children both during and after school."

To ensure the effectiveness of the policy, all 21 schools have signed an agreement enabling the Upper Hutt police to act as their agents, under the Trespass Act 1980, to remove people drinking on school property.

The policy will be officially launched at a lunch held at Silverstream School at noon on 17 November. Attending will be local Member of Parliament Paul Swain, Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy, Brett Kane of the Upper Hutt Police, local principals and representatives from Regional Public Health.

The alcohol-free schools policy is also supported by the Upper Hutt City Council, Upper Hutt Police and Regional Public Health.

ENDS

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