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June 20, 2017

Planning community prevention part 2

Understanding the wider context

Once you’ve asked the questions needed to begin the process of developing a community prevention program, it’s important to understand the wider context.

Successful prevention campaigns and programs have shown that multiple strategies lead to the greatest change. Fortunately, we already have an effective example in the campaign to reduce the road toll.

Reducing the road toll: a useful model to explore

Australia’s success in lowering the road toll has been achieved by many single measures acting together: information campaigns that alerted people to behavioural risks, drink-drive laws, breath testing of drivers, mandatory seat belts, speed cameras, booze buses, improved road design and maintenance and design of cars.

Many of these measures were unpopular when first contemplated, but became acceptable when advocated by diverse groups including police, emergency staff, surgeons, transport experts and civic-minded citizens – including some who had lost loved ones to preventable accidents.

Now few people would want to go back to the way things were. Thus, understanding the wider context will inform the strategies you might employ and who else within the community you can work with.

Identify some strategies that have worked for your issue

Find out what strategies have worked in the past or elsewhere. For example, evidence suggests that some of the most effective ways of reducing alcohol-related harm are:

  • increases in tax/pricing, especially of the cheapest alcoholic drinks;
  • reduced trading hours of licenced venues;
  • reducing density of licenced venues and bottle shops;
  • reduced advertising, especially where it can be seen by young people; and
  • secondary supply laws.

Your program could therefore involve multiple strategies such as lobbying for a change to relevant laws or policies, or providing education in the community to build support for this change.

Save time and effort by working together: how does your program link with others?

To use your time and effort most effectively, think about how your issue or concern might link in with other initiatives and issues.

For example, if you have a concern about community violence, obvious allies are people who are advocating for responsible serving of alcohol and reduced trading hours of liquor venues, or people concerned about a lack of positive activities for young people.

Working together will help achieve the greatest impact.

The next article in this series will explore how to implement a program within a community setting and which stakeholders may need to be consulted.