Help to reduce risk

AN innovative health promotion project aimed at reducing risk-taking behaviour in young people will be held for the first time this year in Coffs Harbour.

RRISK (Reduce Risk, Increase Student Knowledge), is a partnership between the North Coast Area Health Service, NSW Department of Education and Training, Catholic Education Office, Lismore and local councils.

Southern Cross University is a key sponsor of the event, which has been held annually at the Lismore campus.

This year it will involve a total of 3800 students in northern NSW.

It has been extended to Coffs Harbour for the first time this year and will be held at the Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour campus on November 29 and 30.

It will also be held in Port Macquarie in December.

RRISK committee member Sue Hetherington said about 1500 Year 11 students from 19 schools from Grafton to Port Macquarie would be participating at the two venues.

The program includes factual presentations on risk taking, alcohol, drugs, safe driving and vehicle safety, and is enlivened by drama, life stories and role models.

A key feature of the program is the student-led activities and small group discussions.

There is also a crash scenario involving students, police, ambulance, SES and the crown prosecutor.

"Adolescent risk taking associated with alcohol, drugs, driving and celebrating, results in unacceptably high levels of injury and trauma," Ms Hetherington said.

"In this program experts in drug and alcohol and road safety will be working with teachers, health professionals, police, ambulance, magistrates and people who have been injured in motor vehicle crashes.

"Our key messages for students are know the facts and the risks, make informed decisions, take care and minimise risky choices, plan ahead and look after your friends."

"We involve the students in the planning and presentations to ensure RRISK is relevant and empowering to adolescents."

Ms Hetherington said she welcomed the support from SCU and the opportunity to expand the program into Coffs Harbour.

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