Since launching The Other Talk two weeks ago, the feedback we’ve received has been very positive. Radio hosts around the country have been calling, eager to have a yarn about the website on air and provide their listeners with information about preventing alcohol and other drug problems. Listeners have been calling into talkback, eager to discuss young people and how they can help them avoid problems with alcohol. Parents have been in touch with us directly, wanting even more information, or just wanting to say thanks.
It feels like we hit a pressure point – everyone wants to talk about drugs and alcohol publicly, but parents still felt like they needed more support and information to have that ‘awkward’ conversation with their kids.
Perhaps more surprising has been some anecdotal feedback about people using The Other Talk in ways we didn’t expect.
We’ve heard about some young people who are also using it to turn the conversation around and have ‘The Other Other Talk’ with their parents about their alcohol use. We didn’t anticipate this situation, but it’s a story we’re glad to hear – open communication is a great place to start when you’re concerned someone close to you has an alcohol or drug problem.
The other surprising feedback we’ve heard is that people are using resources such as the Safe Partying Guide to start conversations with parents of their children’s friends. Many parents are obviously concerned about the safety and well-being of their children at parties (especially in WA, ACT and SA where it is still not illegal to supply a child with alcohol without their parent’s consent).
A new addition to The Other Talk website in the last couple of days is a light-hearted resource created especially by Crikey.com.au’s well-known cartoonist First Dog on The Moon. Designed for printing or sharing on social media, the cartoon uses humour (and drunk wombats) to illustrate how to have the other talk.
The Other Talk is just one alcohol prevention initiative out there. We know that prevention is better than cure – it’s cheaper, more effective and helps people lead happier, healthier lives. School-based education has been an essential element of alcohol and drug prevention over the last couple of decades in Australia, but in recent times has been considerably wound back, apparently leaving some parents feeling under-informed to take on the role.
As a community we need to acknowledge the $15 billion alcohol is costing the community every year, invest in prevention work and do what we can to help the next generation grow up healthy and strong. May we suggest that as a community, Australia we need to talk openly and honestly about alcohol and other drugs so we can reduce the harm now and prevent future problems.