Planet Youth pilot set to take first steps, with Council support
Blue Mountains City Council is supporting the roll out of the internationally-recognised Planet Youth program that advocates for community-led wellness of our young people, across a broad range of issues.
Developed in Iceland, the model takes an evidence-based approach to particularly reduce the uptake of alcohol and other drugs amongst young people.
Mayor Mark Greenhill said the pilot is being led in the Blue Mountains by the Local Drug Action Team (LDAT), with the support from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) and Council.
“In June this year the Blue Mountains was named as one of ten pilot sites in Australia to roll out the highly regarded Planet Youth model,” Cr Greenhill said. “The Blue Mountains was chosen as a pilot site due to the LDAT’s strong local partnerships between schools and youth services, and commitment to preventative action.
“What makes this model particularly exciting is its emphasis on community; seeking to strengthen all protective factors in the young person’s life such as peer group, family, well-being, and engagement in sport and recreation.
“Council is committed to supporting such an important initiative.”
The first phase of the model relies on the collection of data to provide baseline information about young people’s protective and risk factors. This is compiled using an anonymous online survey distributed to Year 10 students in the local government area; the results are then collated and reported back to the local community by the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis.
The survey is set to be distributed in November this year, with overall results delivered back to the community in March. To date, six local schools have expressed an interest in being a part of the pilot.
At the same time as the youth survey, there will be a survey of local community capacity to support young people looking at issues like transport, housing, youth services, recreation options and school engagement. National ethics approval has been granted for the survey, with approval from the NSW Department of Education still pending.
“Following the sharing of results, youth services and the community will come together to co-design a community action plan that will prioritise actions to be taken as part of the Planet Youth pilot in the Blue Mountains,” Cr Greenhill said.
“This action plan will focus on how, as a community, we can strengthen protective factors that enable young people to flourish and reduce risk factors that make it hard to develop healthy lives.”
Interest in the program is growing. To date more than 24 countries have implemented the Planet Youth model and more than 100 communities have developed a range of initiatives that have been appropriate to their local circumstances. Some examples have included sport and recreation vouchers, accreditation for coaches, parent engagement strategies, and positive leadership skills development.
The Community Action Plan will comprise the initiatives developed by the community and supported by the LDAT. The actions will be implemented and their effectiveness tested after two years, with another youth survey to measure any changes to protective factors following the implementation of the Planet Youth model.
Photo: Mayor Mark Greenhill with BMCC Youth Services Development Officers Ryn Vlachou and Kristy Lenon and Youth Council representatives Ian Tjoelker, Lotte Weber, Gabe Frechtling, Lucy Bell and Jules Blair.