October 27, 2021

Community approach for alcohol harm reduction in West Auckland

The search is on for West Auckland residents interested in working together to make a difference for alcohol harm reduction in the region.

The recruitment call comes from Healthy Families Waitākere as part of an initiative aimed at shifting understanding and investment around alcohol consumption from harm reduction, to prevention and wellbeing. 

“We are looking for community participants to become part of a team of innovators. They’ll take part in a series of workshops to learn about codesign and then apply those learnings to work as a group and design and test new ideas that will bring about positive change for our community and whānau,” explains Megan Beard, Systems Innovator at Healthy Families Waitākere.  

“You will bring your lived experience into the room, helping to bring out the potential and increase the purpose of this important work. We would particularly value input from community elders and rangatahi who live in West Auckland.”

Participants need to have flexibility to attend a number of whānaungatanga group-forming sessions before the workshops start, and then actively participate in at least six workshops. There will then be potential for ongoing participation in developing the ideas/projects initiated at the workshops.

“This group will be working together to build a picture of the future our region deserves, where our whānau and community are free of harm from alcohol. This is the first stage of what will be an extensive process, also bringing together a raft of stakeholders from industry, social service, regulators and community organisations across the West to positively influence this space and build a community model of care.”

The project follows a series of initiatives from Healthy Families Waitākere around alcohol harm minimisation, including the gathering of insights about the state of alcohol harm in West Auckland.

Today, alcohol is more affordable, available, and advertised than ever before. It is the most widely used recreational drug in New Zealand and of all drugs available in society, causes the most harm.

“Most of the harm falls on the people around somebody drinking, and more often than not is invisible – in 2018 64% of call-outs of alcohol related incidents attended by St John’s in West Auckland occurred at home. The impact of alcohol harm is far reaching, affecting the drinker, their whānau and others in the community,” adds Megan.

Alcohol harm is immediate, through crime, assaults, accidents and injury, road traffic crashes and suicides. Long term alcohol harm contributes to addiction, mental health problems, diseases like cancer, stroke and cirrhosis, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

“Sadly, research shows that one in five adults drinks in a way that could harm themselves or others. And the rise of Covid-19 and Auckland’s extended lockdowns has exacerbated alcohol related harm,” adds Megan.