RRISK is a health promotion program that addresses risk-taking behaviour amongst year 11 students in the Mid North and North Coast of NSW. First developed in 1999, the RRISK program has grown rapidly in response to demand, initially involving 300 students from 9 high schools and now attracting over 4900 students from 58 schools across northern NSW from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie.
Adolescent risk taking associated with alcohol, drugs, driving and celebrating results in unacceptably high levels of injury and trauma. Young people are over-represented in every category of risk-taking behaviour resulting in injury.
RRISK is a resilience building program that is relevant to the social life, developmental stage and concerns of adolescents. It extends the school based drug education and road safety curriculum by providing opportunities for senior high school students to develop knowledge, attitudes and skills to reduce risk taking and develop safer celebrating strategies. The program includes a well-designed, multi-strategic seminar day, preceded and followed by a range of in-school activities. It incorporates factual presentations on risk taking, alcohol, drugs, safe celebrating, safe driving and vehicle safety and is enlivened by life stories and role models. Small group activities incorporate elements of the Red Cross “Save-a-Mate” program. Tertiary based Group Facilitators are trained to demonstrate to students how to physically help a friend who may have collapsed and what to do in an emergency. Over the years, the seminars have been supported by community meetings, newsletter inserts, art competitions and professional learning sessions for health professionals, teachers and community workers. RRISK includes keynote presenters from Drug and Alcohol Research & Training Australia and the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (formerly Roads and Traffic Authority).
RRISK not only educates young people about road risks but helps them adopt safer behaviours by providing them with practical skills and strategies to manage risks across many aspects of their social lives by addressing binge drinking and drug use, safe partying and encouraging them to look after their friends.
RRISK is successful because of its relevance to young people. It complements the school curriculum; is considered core business by partners; is well supported by peak organisations; and receives excellent media coverage. Evaluations have been published in peer-reviewed journals and the program has been a finalist in the National Drug and Alcohol Awards and winner of the North Coast Area Health Service Excellence Award and Excellence in Road Safety Award.