WHEN a teenage drinker living on the streets turns his life around and returns to his family, Inspector Mark Lingwood is among those who feel a great sense of achievement.
The inspector is the driving force behind the Queensland Early Intervention Pilot Program - an initiative that helps teen drinkers change their attitudes to alcohol and make sure their lives are on a better track.
"We often see a young person's life at a crossroads and with a little bit of assistance, their lives can be changed for the better, allowing them to have a more positive outlook and future," Inspector Lingwood said in Maroochydore yesterday.
The program starts when police have contact with a teenager who has committed an offence or risks harm, due to intoxication.
They and the family are provided with advice and information, and invited to a free alcohol awareness session.
The sessions invite the teens and their families to explore underlying reasons for the alcohol behaviour, consequences of ongoing alcohol abuse, and suggesting reasons for considering behavioural changes.
In two years, operators have interacted with thousands of troubled teens and families, and have recorded a commendable 87% of teens who avoid coming into contact with police for alcohol-related crimes again.
During 2011-12, police had 1844 program interactions with young people.
Of an average 153 police interactions each month, about eight referrals are made to the program.
Officials have further developed the program to partner with five Sunshine Coast high schools to develop alcohol-education lessons for students.
The program late last year was extended to include talks with Year 7 students about to enter high school, to help take away some of the myths about alcohol.
The program operates on the Sunshine Coast as well as Brisbane, Cairns, Cherbourg, Emerald, Logan, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.
It has the support of Queensland Health, the Education Department, the
Department of Communities, school nurses and other community organisations.
Queensland Early Intervention Pilot Program
Launched - October 2010
3066 information packages
6005 information brochures
5157 parent-young person brochures
1782 information brochures for 17-year-olds
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