Education
Using Indigenous culture
Recreation and youth programs
Education, training and employment

Education

  • Australian educational authorities continue to pursue a policy of not providing education about VSM under school-based drug education programs, on the grounds that such education may inadvertently encourage experimentation with inhalants. Some information about volatile substances is provided through occupational health and safety training.

  • In England and Wales, by contrast, schools are required to include information about solvents in drug education programs. The UK Government is currently funding a five-year follow up study of the impact of school-based drug education on subsequent drug use.

  • Education targeting known inhalant users is unlikely to be effective if it adopts scare tactics. However, education highlighting the potential impact of VSM on valued activities, such as capacity to play sport, may be useful.

  • Education about inhalants for parents and professional people likely to come into contact with VSM, such as teachers and welfare workers, and for communities where VSM occurs, has been shown to be of value.

Using Indigenous culture

  • Several innovative programs have been developed using Indigenous cultural practices as vehicles for combating VSM, in particular through art forms, story telling and restoration of important caring relationships. The impact of such activities is difficult to determine, and few initiatives have been evaluated.

Recreation and youth programs

  • Recreational activities that are sufficiently exciting to provide an alternative to sniffing, and are available out of hours, can help to prevent VSM, although they are unlikely to attract chronic users.

  • Successful programs have included measures to avoid stigmatising drug users; have focused on skill and capacity development; included a range of activities and opportunities for risk-taking; and have been offered on a flexible basis. Such activities should be practicable, utilise local resources, and be sustainable. Top of page

  • Youth and recreation programs should not be the primary component of an anti-VSM program in communities with high proportions of chronic sniffers.

  • Youth work in remote communities is challenging and requires diverse skills, such as operating 4WD vehicles, hunting, painting, crisis support, sporting activities, and applying for grants. Activities must be run during evenings, nights, on weekends and through holidays.

  • Little research has been conducted into the impact of recreational programs on VSM in urban and regional centres. However, there is some evidence to suggest that they are most effective with young people among whom VSM has not become entrenched.

Education, training and employment

  • Skills training, remedial education and employment have all been shown to contribute to reducing VSM.