A Royal Melbourne Hospital program is helping change the lives of young people by exposing them to the grim reality of risky behaviour.
Young people are at more risk of becoming a victim of trauma than any other age group. Transport accidents, drugs and alcohol, and assault are the highest causes of death and disability for youths between the ages of 15 to 24.
The RMH Trauma Service runs two Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth (P.A.R.T.Y) Programs, which target high school students (P.A.R.T.Y Schools Program) and young offenders aged 19-25 years (P.A.R.T.Y Intervention Program).
The aim of the program is to educate teens and young adults about risks and consequences, as well as providing tools to use to help them make safer, more informed choices.
The program gives participants an opportunity to see inside the RMH’s Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit and Trauma Wards. Attendees also hear from current and former patients on the injury and disability that results from risky behaviour and road trauma.
Former patient and P.A.R.T.Y injury ambassador, Brent Alford, regularly shares his story to show firsthand the consequences of at risk taking behaviour.
Brent was rushed to the RMH when, after being refused entry for being drunk, he jumped from a window into a nightclub, landing head-first on a vending machine. He was placed in an induced coma after suffering a stroke, and then spent 10 months at The RMH undergoing intense rehabilitation.
Despite receiving long-term disabilities after the stroke, Brent is now living fully independently and is determined to educate young people on the dangers of drugs, alcohol and risk taking behaviour.
“I love telling my story,” he said.
“If I can help one person in the room make smarter choices when out drinking with their mates, I know I’m winning.”
The intervention program remains the only one of its kind in Australia, run in collaboration with Sunshine, Werribee and Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Courts, Youth Junction and Victoria Police.
The P.A.R.T.Y Schools Program has been running since 2010, while the Intervention Program started in 2011. Both programs have been on hold from most of 2020 and have had to undergo transformation from in-hospital to online and hybrid programs.
The P.A.R.T.Y program has seen incredible success with young offenders. The RMH and Victoria Police reviewed recidivism rates of 442 P.A.R.T.Y Intervention Program participants (between 2011 and 2016) and found 90% had not reoffended in the 12 months post attending P.A.R.T.Y.
For more information on The P.A.R.T.Y Program, visit www.thermh.org.au/party