A ‘Keeping Youth Drug Free’ seminar was held on Thursday 25 January 2018 organised by Muslim Women’s Welfare of Australia (MWWA) to help parents, guardians, and students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to gain a better understanding of the drug abuse by today’s youth.
The seminar, sponsored by Liverpool Council, was followed by a free drug awareness lunch, which particularly focused on how to identify and detect drug use by their own children and by other children, methods of treatment and more importantly, how drug use can be prevented in the first place.
The Seminar was opened with a speech by Mrs Faten El Dana OAM, the President of MWWA and the founder of the Drugs programs developed by MWWA, and featured expert guest speakers from Liverpool Police and health, who have had extensive experience with youth and drug abuse.
Mrs El Dana stressed the importance of caring for our children by always being wary of where they are at all times and of who their friends are. “This is extremely important nowadays,” she said: “if your son returns home at 3am with red sunken eyes, do not ignore these signs, ask them about their whereabouts”.
Another beneficial insight came from Mrs Jennifer Blundell, the Training and Development Officer from the Alcohol and Drug Service Contact Centre at St Vincent’s Hospital who shed a light, through her years of experience in counselling and Mental Health training, on the value of treating drug abuse right from the start.
She indicated the harmful effects using drugs has on individuals by comparing the different type of drugs and their negative consequences. “These drugs can incur memory loss, learning difficulties, mood swings, regular cold or flues, reduced immune systems, reduced sex drive or even mood swings”.
Afterwards, a real-life video presentation was shown to the audience to reflect a realistic picture of how persistent use of drugs leads to an array of problems, including academic difficulties, physical/mental health issues, poor peer relationships and not to mention the consequences for family members, the community, and the entire society.
This was followed by a presentation from the Liverpool Police Senior Constable and Crime Prevention Officer, Mr Tony Ha and Senior Constable and Liverpool Youth Liaison Officer, Mrs Rachel Kennedy.
Mrs Kennedy started by showing pictures of different types of drugs to the audience many of them were unable to identify. She then went ahead and described names, attributes, uses and effects of each individual drug that she presented.
Mrs Kennedy emphasised the need to monitor one’s children because some youth may find ways to use everyday home products as chemically based drugs. “These are just cleaning products that you may have at home, but some young people use these by sniffing them and as a way of becoming sleepy”.
Whereas Mr Ha began by giving details about the criminal side of drug offences that youth who are caught with, would be convicted with, depending on the weight and type of drugs found in their possession.
Mr Ha also warned that even a person as young as “ten years old” can be arrested if they are caught with illegal illicit drugs. He also cautioned against ‘Drink Spiking’ among students especially towards female ones during university and other school functions.
Both Liverpool police representatives encouraged parents and children to come forward or not to be afraid of anonymously report anyone who may be doing drugs. They also reassured the audience that they can get assistance from the police at any time they need police help.