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School Leaver (Graduate) Celebrations in Margaret River, Western Australia: A Community Approach to Management

NCJ Number
Substance Use & Misuse Volume: 42 Issue: 12-13 Dated: 2007 Pages: 1915-1932
Richard Midford; Sarah Midford; Fiona Farringdon
Date Published
18 pages
This article discusses a community model for controlling youth related alcohol use at graduation celebrations.
Findings suggest that good planning and community involvement in activities build a more harmonious relationship with the leavers (recent graduates); the Margaret River community 2001 celebration serves as a model for local communities. The model implemented in 2001 allowed the community to control the annual event rather than being overwhelmed by it. In recent years, an increasing number of young Western Australians have chosen the tourist town of Margaret River, about 300 kilometers south of Perth, as the place to celebrate completing school. Typically, the celebration involves intense socializing and considerable binge drinking which has been associated with drinking and driving, increased hospital presentations, more police call outs, and damage to environment and property. In 2000, local service agencies and businesses decided that both the community and the leavers would be better served if the celebrations were managed so as to minimize their impact on the local community, but while still maintaining an enjoyable and memorable celebration for the leavers. In 2001, the community developed a comprehensive management strategy to minimize the impact of the celebrations, while still facilitating an enjoyable experience for the leavers. This incorporated community members providing supervised activities for the leavers. Evaluation of the intervention employed a mixed methodology, comprising surveys of school leavers, interviews with community stakeholders, and participant observation. Interview results indicated that the leavers were generally satisfied with their experience and the community felt it had maintained control. Providing community activities for the leavers not only built a relationship between the two entities, but minimized problems for both groups. The 212 leavers (102 males and 110 females) were interviewed at the start of the week’s celebrations. Twelve local stakeholders were interviewed subsequent to the celebrations. The field researchers also systematically observed proceedings during the period of the celebrations. Tables, notes, glossary, and references