March 8, 2018

Building a Smart Generation in Knox

students in front of stained glass window

The City of Knox is home to 160,000 people in Melbourne’s east. The council is focused on creating healthy, connected communities through range of interesting projects.

Knox Local Drug Action Team and Communities that care

Incorporating the Communities That Care (CTC) program platform, the Knox City Council and EACH have partnered with more than 20 other organisations to form a Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) to reduce alcohol harms with a focus on young people.

At a recent forum hosted by the City of Knox, Deborah Cocks the Coordinator of the Knox LDAT said that the LDAT program has provided a really good partnership platform to implement a range of activities.

Smart Generation and alcohol education

“One of our key programs is the Smart Generation strategy,” says Deborah.

“It’s a multilevel program, that works with schools as well as working in the community.”

“The school provides lesson plans for the students in years six, eight, nine and 10 [with a] focus on delivering … key messages on the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines around alcohol.”

As well as monitoring alcohol retail sales to underage people, the Smart Generation program has an in-school, peer-led alcohol education component.

“The students teach each other about the issues around drinking, the effects on the teenage brain and the damage it can do.”

“Then they hold an event where they provide this information to their parents and really use it as an opportunity for their parents to set rules,” said Deborah.

Knox currently has three schools taking part in Smart Generation. One of which is Saint Joseph’s College.

Saint Joseph’s was represented at the forum by Tom Murphy. A teacher and Smart Generation coordinator at the school, Tom spoke on how the school delivers the program to year 9 students.

Teachers nominate students who apply to be leaders and participate in an information session run by Deakin University, said Tom. This is presented by academics and incorporates a non-judgemental question-and-answer session. Armed with this knowledge, student leaders then run their own series of workshops and awareness-raising activities for their peers – culminating in an event involving parents.

Students make it work

The most important part of Smart Generation is the young people involved. It’s the students who really make the program work.

“[The students] really drive it,” says Tom.

“I think their peers are more likely to respond to someone in the same situation as them. I’ve heard so many parents say: ‘But if I told him to do that, he wouldn’t do it!’”

“These guys make it more engaging for the boys. It has a real big impact on them.”

It’s certainly had an impact on Josh Hill and Jack Moses who are now in year 11 at Saint Joseph’s and were leaders in Smart Generation when they were in year 9.

knox civic centre

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