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Red Cross wins international award for youth drug and alcohol program

Wednesday March 12, 2008

Red Cross' save-a-mate program will receive a major international award at this month's meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.

The award, presented by the board of the international policy think-tank Senlis Council, is for 'Innovative Drug Policy' for 'contributing to Global Drug Policy by promoting and implementing effective health based solutions to the drug problem'.

In particular save-a-mate was commended as 'an important initiative in drug policy and a powerful illustration of how a health based approach to drug policy effectively and poignantly relieves suffering and reduces drug-related damage to individuals, families and society. The success of save-a-mate sends a strong message to policy makers on the need to shift current approaches to drug policy towards non-ideological, realistic and humanitarian measures to tackle social externalities engendered by drug use.'

The CEO of Australian Red Cross, Robert Tickner said save-a-mate provides training, education, first aid services and health promotion initiatives to help young people look after themselves and provide support to their peers.

'More than 40,000 young people come into contact with save-a-mate each year, including 10,000 who undertake our training courses' Mr Tickner said.

'Our non-judgemental approach, marrying alcohol and other drug education with first aid training has proven to be highly successful and extremely popular with young people' he said.

With the support of beyondblue: the national depression initiative Red Cross has recently introduced a companion peer education program called Talk Out Loud which focuses on youth mental health issues. Red Cross is also currently working with Indigenous communities around Australia to address alcohol, drug and mental health issues in remote locations.

The award will be accepted by Shaun Hazeldine, National Manager of the save-a-mate-program, who will deliver a statement about young people and drug use to the UN meeting.

Shaun will also present on save-a-mate at Red Cross' Third World Congress on Drugs in Barcelona, where the program is being proposed as an effective health-based approach to drug use issues that can readily be adapted for use around the world.

March is Red Cross Calling- the organisation's major appeal for funds to support its work in Australia and overseas, with a target of $9 million in 2008.

Donate online at , phone 1800 811 700 or at Coles Supermarkets or Commonwealth Bank of Australia branches.