This section of the website provides information and resources on the Department’s Drug Education program. The site has a range of useful material for schools, teachers and parents.
The Drug Education program implements and reviews ongoing, effective drug education in Victorian schools using prevention and harm minimisation approaches.
Defining drug education in schools
Effective drug education is important because young people are faced with many influences to use both licit and illicit drugs. Education can play a counterbalancing role in shaping a normative culture of safety, moderation, and informed decision making.
The Department assists Victorian schools to develop ongoing, sustainable drug education policies and programs based on a harm minimisation approach. A harm minimisation approach aims to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drugs by minimising or limiting the harms and hazards of drug use for both the community and the individual without necessarily eliminating use. It is recognised that teachers are best placed to provide young people with the skills and knowledge to make sound choices and decisions and thus teachers must be adequately trained.
Why do we need school drug education?
Engaging students in drug education activities assists them to make healthy and safe choices, identify risky situations, and develop strategies to prepare them for challenging situations. A range of resources to assist teachers in this role are available on this website.
What does effective school drug education look like?
The available evidence-base suggests that effective drug education programs should:
- increase student’s knowledge, social and life skills, and refusal skills towards licit and illicit drug use
- include content relevant to young people’s experiences and interests
- contain highly interactive pedagogies that engage students in problem solving and critical thinking
- commence activities prior to initial experimentation and continue as young people mature
- provide significant coverage of relevant issues complimented by follow up booster sessions
- position drug education within a broader health and personal learning curriculum that focuses, amongst other things, on mental health issues such as stress and coping
- respond to cultural and social needs of the school community
- engage parents where possible.
How should schools incorporate drug education into their curriculum?
Whole school approach
The model for drug education in Victoria is based on a whole school approach that utilises research and evidence based practice, effective pedagogy and encourages a positive school climate and strong partnerships.
Schools that are approaching drug education in a broadly defined curriculum appear to be making a greater impact on students. In these schools there is recognition that drug education is more than teaching essential information in a discrete subject such as Health. Drug education includes an emphasis on:
- developing students’ life skills and protective behaviours
- promoting the range of relationships in which students can engage
- ensuring that students are connected to their schooling
- external influences such as, media, family and peers.
Considering the following key documents provide the framework for planning, developing and assessing drug education curriculum:
Support for your school drug education program
Role of Regional Office
Each region provides professional learning activities to teachers in relation to learning and teaching, policy development, utilising resources and supporting student wellbeing in schools. Contact your Regional Senior Program Officer to assist you in developing your drug education plan.
Role of Central Office
The drug education team is situated within the Student Wellbeing and Health Support Division. The role of the central officers is to develop policy and resources and administer funding to schools.
To contact your Regional Senior Program Officer or the drug education team, see: Contacts