Who to get on side

The research tells us that one initiative on its own is unlikely to create change. However, a number of programs that complement each other have a good chance of actually preventing harm. For example, if a GP talks with you about the effects of risky drinking you may be less likely to object when your local bar stops selling shots and doubles after 10pm.

The reality is that it’s difficult for one community group to do this alone. The key to success is to link up with other similar initiatives and encourage influential people in the community to support your cause.

Learning from reducing the road toll

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 for by diverse groups including police, emergency staff, surgeons, transport experts and concerned Australians – including some who had lost loved ones to preventable accidents.

Mobilising a community to create change

  • Don’t underestimate the power of spending time early on connecting with people across your community.
  • Listen first and collect information. Find out what drives people – their aims and objectives – as well as common perceptions and misconceptions. Learn what initiatives are already running and how successful they are, and identify the gaps and existing overlaps in programs.
  • Draw a diagram of how you think different organisations and people could work together.
  • Get people on side by sharing statistics on alcohol and drug harms, and ideas and tools for preventing them. Use the local media.
  • Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to leverage rather that duplicate the activities and programs that already exist.

Organisations to approach

Use this list as a starting point to help you brainstorm groups and organisations that you could connect with. Some of these groups might provide recommendations on how to start, while others may be in a better position to lead an initiative or provide facilities, expertise, or funding.

  • Local councils
  • Police
  • Schools
  • Alcohol and drug workers
  • Primary care partnerships
  • Lions, Rotary and Apex clubs
  • Non-government health and human service agencies
  • Community development, health promotion and youth workers
  • Residents groups, including neighbourhood watch and progress associations
  • General Practitioners, pharmacists, dentists and hospitals
  • Traders and business associations
  • Major employers in the area
  • Other influential individuals within the community (check local media)