Adolescence is a critical time for shaping an individual's future. Research shows that the earlier youth engage in alcohol and drug use, the higher the chances of negative outcomes such as poor academic performance, dropping out of school, alcohol/drug dependence and mental ill-health later in life. We believe that prevention is key to empowering youth to achieve their full potential. To give just one example, for every year that a teenager delays drinking alcohol, their risk of later developing alcohol dependence reduces by 10%.
Strong & Deadly Futures is a culturally-inclusive and curriculum-aligned alcohol and drug prevention program designed specifically for secondary students. It is the first program of its kind to be co-developed with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Importantly, the program takes a strengths-based approach, embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and evidence-based strategies to empower all students, foster safe attitudes, enhance psychological wellbeing, and prevent alcohol and drug-related harm.
To promote social and emotional wellbeing, the Strong & Deadly Futures program draws on the latest research evidence and is informed by consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and communities. The core learning outcomes are communicated via an animated story, which follows the experiences of a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous teenagers. The key messages are reinforced through interactive classroom activities that highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural strengths and facilitate skills practice.
Strong & Deadly Futures was developed by researchers at the University of Sydney (Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, CRE in Indigenous Health & Alcohol) in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creative agencies Gilimbaa, GARUWA, and Leon Design.
Development of Strong & Deadly Futures was informed through consultations with Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous students, teachers, Aboriginal health organisations, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. The pilot program was developed from 2017-2018 in partnership with 4 communities, and subsequently refined in 2021-2022 based on feedback from 23 communities across New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia. To learn more about the development process of Strong & Deadly Futures, check out our Acknowledgments page and behind-the-scenes video.
In 2019, Strong & Deadly Futures was pilot-tested in 4 high schools with Year 7 and 8 students (12-14 years old) with promising results. The program was well received by students and teachers, and students increased their alcohol and drug harm minimisation knowledge, and reported lower psychological distress, after participating in the program. Building upon this success, the program is now being compared to usual drug education as part of a randomised controlled trial in 22 secondary schools across New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia. The results, available from 2024, will provide insights into the program's effectiveness at improving wellbeing and preventing harm from alcohol, tobacco and cannabis.
At the end of the trial, Strong & Deadly Futures will be made widely accessible to secondary schools in Australia. To express your interest in being part of Strong & Deadly Futures, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Web-Based Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Program (Strong & Deadly Futures) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander School Students: Protocol for a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial (2022)
Acceptability and feasibility of Strong & Deadly Futures, a culturally-inclusive alcohol and drug prevention program for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander secondary students (2022)
Strong and Deadly Futures: Co-Development of a Web-Based Wellbeing and Substance Use Prevention Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Non-Aboriginal Adolescents (2021)
An ecological model of drug and alcohol use and related harms among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: A systematic review of the literature (2020)