This year’s RRISK (Reduce Risk, Increase Student Knowledge) seminars for Year 11 students in Tweed Heads, Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie will promote the key message of ‘Look after your friends, you could save their life’.

This message will be reinforced by incorporating elements of the Red Cross ‘Save-a-Mate’ program into the training of over 300 student Peer Facilitators who will then demonstrate how to physically help a friend who may be unconscious to small groups of their classmates.

More than 3900 Year 11 students from 50 high schools will attend one of this year’s RRISK seminars.

Organiser Sue Hetherington, Drug and Road Safety Officer with the Catholic Education Office, Lismore, said: “We want to make sure young people know what to do in an emergency.

“It’s vital not to delay in calling for an ambulance, as this could prove fatal.

“Many of them may be partying on rural properties and need to respond quickly if a friend becomes ill or passes out.” 

Reyna Dight, Co-ordinator of Alcohol Projects at North Coast Area Health Service, said alcohol continues to be the number one problem for young people, although some parents concerned about illicit drugs openly encourage underage drinking in the hope of deterring other drug use.

“The earlier people start drinking, the more likely they are to drink heavily and develop a dependency on alcohol as they move into adulthood,” Ms Dight said.

“We are becoming more aware of the effect of alcohol and other substance use on adolescent brain development.” 

Paul Dillon, from Drug and Alcohol Research and Training, Australia, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s RRISK seminars.

“Testing boundaries, taking risks and asserting their independence are typical behaviours for young people,” he said.

“As I go around the country, I hear many stories from young people of misadventure involving alcohol and drugs which can result in serious injury or death.

“My role is to provide information that can save lives but the final decision is up to them.”
RRISK seminars will be held in:

Lismore at Southern Cross University from 18-20 November 2008

Tweed Heads Civic Centre on 21 & 25 November 2008

Coffs Harbour at Southern Cross University on 27 & 28 November 2008

Port Macquarie Panthers on 2 December 2008

The RRISK program is the product of a highly effective partnership between North Coast Area Health Service, Department of Education and Training, Lismore Catholic Education Office, Lismore City, Tweed and Ballina Shire Councils in the Far North Coast and Coffs Harbour City, and Port Macquarie-Hastings Councils in the Mid North Coast.

Sponsorship is received from Southern Cross University, NRMA and local sporting clubs.

The program is also supported by the RTA, NSW Police, NSW Ambulance, NSW SES and VRA.

The RRISK seminars have been running for 10 years in the Far North Coast and two years in the Mid North Coast.