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Be A Hero: Try Zero

From left to right: Greg Newton (National Public Health Service), Tim Hyde-Smith(South Canterbury Rugby Football Union), Sergeant Cameron McBride (NZ Police),Michelle Bunt (South Canterbury Road Safety), Lucy Mehrtens (South Canterbury RoadSafety), Constable Alby Munang (NZ Police), Donna Lindsay (Fire and Emergency NZ –Mid & South Canterbury). Photo/Supplied

This June, South Canterbury Rugby Football Union, Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, New Zealand Police and South Canterbury Road Safety are together asking people to ‘Be a Hero: Try Zero’.

Throughout June, rugby club members will be encouraged to choose zero alcohol beverages and look after their teammates in an initiative aimed at reducing alcohol related harm in the community.

Competition packs will be delivered to South Canterbury rugby clubs and will include education and tips on how to check in on their mates’ wellbeing and get home safely from a night out.

The intention is to get people talking, shift attitudes and behaviours and de-stigmatise zero alcohol choices. The rugby club that consumes the most zero-alcohol beverages during the month of June will win a tackle mat for their club valued at $1,200, as well as a pizza shout.

Tim Hyde-Smith, CEO of South Canterbury Rugby Football Union said that they wanted to get on board and educate players on how to be alcohol smart.

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“This means being able to have a good time but being prepared for their games and being positive role models in social environments on and off the field,” he said.

“We want our local players to be mentally, emotionally and physically healthy and have positive habits that support their relationships, finances and career.

“In conjunction with the assistance of our Clubs together moving forward we will be implementing on-going strategies to further educate and guide our people.”

Alcohol-related harm affects our community’s wellbeing in a multitude of ways. Alcohol is a larger contributing factor to death and serious injury crashes on our roads in South Canterbury compared to both Canterbury and nationwide data. Males are overrepresented in these statistics, and the highest number of alcohol-related crashes occur on Saturday and Sunday, between 6pm and 12am.

Nationwide data from Fire and Emergency New Zealand also shows a strong correlation between weekend alcohol use and incidents, with 57% of all fires occurring between Friday and Sunday having a contributing factor of alcohol or drug use.

Ministry of Health research shows that nationally the annual cost of alcohol harm is estimated to be over $7 billion a year, with two in five violent interpersonal offences known to involve alcohol, as well as 11% of emergency department visits.

Dr Cheryl Brunton, Medical Officer of Health for the National Public Health Service, said that contrary to what some people believe, alcohol harm is not just a youth issue.

“Recent research based on hospital admissions to Christchurch Hospital is that alcohol presentations are increasing in both the 25-54 and over-54 age groups, while youth presentations are declining,” she said.

“It’s also a misconception that alcohol is a harmless choice. A first of its kind piece of research on drug harm in New Zealand shows that alcohol is the leading cause of harm to others and self and it’s equal to the combined harm from all other drugs, except methamphetamine.”

Aoraki Area Commander Vicki Walker says excessive and inappropriate consumption of alcohol is more likely to lead to harm-related incidents.

“Police continue to work alongside partner agencies to ensure people are able to enjoy themselves in a safe way.

“By eliminating impairment from alcohol consumption, we also eliminate the risk of drink driving, as well as taking steps towards removing alcohol-related harm from our community.”

Be a Hero: Try Zero is part of a wider campaign to promote low-risk drinking, low drug use and mental wellbeing in South Canterbury. Find out more to keep yourself and others safe at: whataboutyou.co.nz

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