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Victoria promotes safe alcohol use

Victoria promotes safe alcohol use

A taskforce established by Victoria University to educate students on safe alcohol use is developing a number of new strategies to deter students from binge drinking, including employing a dedicated health educator to run a new alcohol awareness programme.

The group, called Reduced Harm, is led by Victoria’s Director of Student Services, Ruth Moorhouse, and is made up of representatives from the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association, student halls of residence, the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), Student Health and Regional Public Health. Education stakeholders, such as the Drug and Alcohol programme tutor at WELTEC, and Massey University’s clinical nursing manager are also members.

A report commissioned by ALAC has raised concerns about drinking culture amongst university students.

Ms Moorhouse says although Victoria’s campuses and halls of residences already have effective alcohol guidelines in place, the advisory group aims to further reduce hazardous drinking and the harm it causes.

“At Victoria we already have a number of policies in place. For example, a number of halls of residence give students the choice of living in alcohol free floors, they ban alcohol on certain days or certain times of the year, such as during exams, and also place bans on certain types of liquor, including kegs.

“In addition to this, Reduced Harm is to implement new actions to help students make safe and healthy lifestyle choices. These include recruiting a health educator who will be responsible for developing a Peer Education programme using senior students to raise awareness of safe drinking, amongst other key health issues.”

Reduced Harm hopes to boost the Peer Education programme, due to start next year, by negotiating with WELTEC’s Bachelor of Alcohol Studies students to have clinical placements alongside the health educator.

The group is about to undertake a survey of first year students in order to gather ‘baseline’ data to assess the impact of upcoming safe drinking measures. They are also developing best practice guidelines for alcohol management in halls of residence.

“The overall aim is to promote individual and group safe drinking practices, encouraging concern for others in a social setting and respect for non-drinkers,” says Ms Moorhouse.

“We plan to achieve this aim by controlling the supply of alcohol, reducing the demand for alcohol, and limiting problems that arise from alcohol misuse.”

Victoria’s student union premises actively encourage safe drinking practices by ensuring their bar staff are well trained, the venues are properly supervised and that alcohol is sold responsibly.

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