HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think needs to be done to prevent drug and alcohol problems in the Southern Downs?
HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think needs to be done to prevent drug and alcohol problems in the Southern Downs? KatarzynaBialasiewicz

SURVEY: Isolation lurks behind drug and alcohol problems

SOUTHERN Downs residents say a lack of belonging is one of the biggest factors contributing to drug and alcohol related problems in our community.

Preliminary results from a district-wide survey that asks residents for their input on prevention strategies have shown many feel opportunities for community engagement are amiss in our communities.

"There is a need for support services and people are indicating one of the risk factors is not feeling a sense that they belong and a sense of connection to others and to the community,” Local Drug Action Team Project Manager Nicola Fisher said.

"I think we can struggle in rural communities with affordability and access to community engagement.

"What this shows is if people aren't connected to something in the community there can be a sense of disconnection.”

Ms Fisher said the survey was an important step in getting region-specific data on drug and alcohol problems on the Southern Downs.

"While there is data available a lot of surveys focus on the greater Darling Downs and we want to really identify data for the Southern Downs and also for Warwick and Stanthorpe,” she said.

"It's about getting something that is really specific for our neighbourhoods so we are able to run comparisons against what national data are saying.”

Ms Fischer said she was encouraged by the response from the community and was surprised to see every demographic throw in its two cents.

"All of our residents are experts into what happens in their communities and the best ways to go about prevention, so it's really important to tap into that,” she said.

The survey is the first stage of the LDAT program that aims to deliver primary prevention strategies which could include education sessions, changing laws and regulations and developing safe environments that reduce the risk of drug and alcohol use.

Ms Fisher said obtaining high-quality regional data would be instrumental in implementing prevention strategies within the Southern Downs community.

The second round of funding for strategy implementation will cover the granite belt region, but the data will provide evidence for Warwick stakeholders to secure funding as well.

"The whole of the Southern Downs is invested in where this goes.”

Southern Downs residents are encouraged to pitch in with their feedback, advice and ideas: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5HHMKVL

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