Group helps community reject drugs

A PARTNERSHIP between Bendigo's leading health and welfare providers is working to bolster community resilience against drugs.

Bendigo Community Health Services, the City of Greater Bendigo, Victoria Police, Youth Support and Advocacy Services, Bendigo District Aboriginal Cooperative, Bendigo Health, St Luke's and The Salvation Army are leading a community campaign to make Bendigo a healthier place.

The focus will not be on any particular drug with the partnership recognising various drugs go "in and out of fashion".

Instead, the emphasis will be on positive community messages of education, prevention and information about drugs.

Bendigo Community Health Services chief executive officer Kim Sykes recently spoke to the Bendigo Advertiser on behalf of the partnership.

"The people involved in this are very keen not just to focus on the one drug," she said.

"It's about strengthening positive altitudes around alcohol and drugs, around minimising the chance of somebody getting into trouble.

"It's education, prevention, information about drugs and empowering behaviours that reject against drugs.

"A fundamental platform of this is that it really is a community endeavour.

"This is about really engaging the community and working with the community to not only provide information that these partner agencies have but to also find out from the community what people want to know.

"It's about learning how we really make it less likely that if you live in Bendigo you're going to be indulging in harmful drug taking."

The partnership is organising a community forum for later this month.

"This partnership features significant providers that have really seen a lot of people in strife across a broad spectrum of drugs," Ms Sykes said.

"The very strong view is that it's about appreciating that any drug can have a disastrous consequence, any drug can devastate somebody's life.

"It's also that notion that if we focus on only one drug then next week there's another drug. To focus on only one drug, you run the risk of pushing people into another problem."