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Young people helping young people

Tuesday April 4, 2006

Red Cross today announced the national expansion of Save-A-Mate (SAM) - a unique non-judgemental education and first-aid program specifically designed for alcohol and other drug-related emergencies.

Making the announcement at the beginning of National Youth Week (1-9 April), the CEO of Australian Red Cross, Robert Tickner, said that SAM initiatives would start in Victoria, the ACT and the Northern Territory in the coming months, complementing the well established programs in NSW, Queensland and SA

'We thought it quite fitting to make this announcement this week - National Youth Week. SAM is a wonderful example of young people helping young people deal with the challenges that they face in their everyday lives.'

Through SAM Australian Red Cross aims to reduce the harm associated with drug and alcohol use, by offering first-aid courses that address the likely outcomes of alcohol and drug use.

In addition, Red Cross volunteers attend various youth events around the country, such as the Homebake music festival, sharing information with revellers about the effects and dangers of experimenting with drugs and alcohol, as well as offering a safe and comfortable place for people to 'chill out'.

According to Shaun Hazeldine, Manager of Youth and Education Services for Australian Red Cross NSW, the key to SAM's success lies in the fact that it is built on the premise of young people working with other young people.

'Research shows us that people are more likely to hear and take notice if they can relate to the person talking to them.

'Young people aren't out of place at these events - it's their environment. It's not a case of some stuffy authority figure trying to engage with kids and coming across as disingenuous,' he said.