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Community Action on Youth and Drugs (CAYAD)

In late 1997, APHRU and it's indigenous research partner Whariki developed a collaborative community action project on Youth and Drugs, known as CAYAD. CAYAD arose from initiatives undertaken by communities, researchers, and the Ministry of Education to address issues relating to reducing drug-related harm to youth, with a particular focus on cannabis use. CAYAD incorporates six community project sites around New Zealand where project workers have been working collaboratively, with their communities and with each other, to promote Community Action on Youth and Drugs. The kaupapa of CAYAD has operated around five main objectives:

  • Increasing informed debate on drug issues and their impact in the community
  • Promoting, implementing and supporting policies and safe behaviours on drug use
  • Identifying existing or developing 'best practice' programmes to address school and student needs including youth/whanau in need of support
  • Developing alliances between key community organisations and sectors
  • Development of local resources to raise awareness and facilitate and support youth voice and discussion on reducing drug-related harm

This two-and-a-half year project was funded in five communities by the Ministry of Education with the sixth community funded by the Health Funding Authority.

Community action programmes are becoming increasingly accepted as key health promotion initiatives to deal with alcohol and drug related issues. These programmes move away from placing the responsibility solely on individuals and their families and promote community ownership of problems and solutions. They recognise the social context of drug use and broad range of factors that have an important influence on drug use and misuse.

Each region appointed a community development worker who took a lead role in their community coalition, to coordinate the planning and implementation of programme strategies.

Community and school consultation informed planning, priority-setting and a range of culturally appropriate activities.

Cannabis was a particular focus because of the concern expressed in many communities that the availability, normalisation of use and reported problems with cannabis was adversely affecting youth.

APHRU and Whariki were responsible for providing a formative evaluation role (collection and feedback of relevant information to assist programme planning, implementation and ongoing development) to assist the community action process.

Examples of activities:

  • community consultation hui on cannabis issues
  • support for schools in developing policies and practices that build on the health educatioin curriculum, using health promoting schools, student assistance programmes and peer support approaches
  • development of youth leadership courses
  • approaches to clubs and maraes to adopt drug policies
  • development of whanau education and support programmes
  • support for youth to organise and develop their own activities and resources such as safe rage kits, street jam holiday programmes, hip hop rap songs, street murals and regular youth spots in local media

Project update and progress indicators:

Community action projects in five of the six communities have continued beyond the short-term funding offered by the Ministry of Education and are now funded by the Ministry of Health.

There has been improved awareness and adoption of alternative options to suspension and ad hoc drug education.

The strong kaupapa Maori approach from the communities and their local experience has provided a challenge to mainstream systems to think outside the square.

The project has stimulated awareness and discussion of of broader issues including colonisation and harm reduction.  

At the community level there has been a positive spin-off in the area of workforce development for the community/Maori workers involved in the project and ripple effects for employment initiatives and collaborative ventures with other sectors.

Researchers: Kim Conway, Megan Tunks, Wendy Henwood

Conway, K., Tunks, M., Henwood, W. & Casswell, S. (2000) Te Whanau Cadillac - A Waka for change.  Health Education and Behavior, 27, 339-350

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