Fifteen year old Maddi comes from Barcaldine, a typical western Queensland country town with spacious streets, open spaces and six pubs with wide verandas. The issues confronting Maddi and her teenage friends are all too common in the country areas of Queensland.
High youth unemployment; lack of job and leisure opportunities for young people; boredom and associated alcohol and substance misuse. Red Cross is working with the young people of Barcaldine and surrounding towns to address these issues through the save-a-Mate Our Way program.
SAM Our Way supports young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to develop strategies to prevent and reduce the harms associated with alcohol and other drug use.
Maddi has attended SAM Our Way workshops in Barcaldine and says it's smart to teach young people about the safe way of doing things.
"If your friends do get really drunk, or something else goes wrong, then you know what to do."
The community program has a strong focus on developing young leaders by reconnecting young people with traditional culture through bush camps, art workshops and yarning circles.
Other programs in Barcaldine have included collating a community story book to foster intergenerational relationships while raising awareness of the impact of binge drinking; a smoke free support program "Lung Busters" in partnership with Queensland Health and the Central Western Aboriginal Corporation at the local pool and taking a group of peer leaders to Magnetic Island to produce a short film focussing on health promotion and education messages regarding alcohol and other drug emergencies.
SAM Our Way is being delivered in 14 sites across Australia in Western Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia.