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JCCV says no to Alcohol Abuse

JCCV says no to Alcohol Abuse

18 November 2010

Firm and supportive parenting is the best answer to increasing alcohol abuse issues affecting Victoria’s Jewish youth.  This message came across loud and clear at a public forum on 16 November 2010 auspiced by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) as part of its ongoing Youth Alcohol Project (YAP).

Speakers and audience members accepted that clear and non-negotiable boundaries for children were crucial.  As educator and family counsellor Michelle Kornberg noted, as the children’s safety and health clearly were factors guiding parents and would be reflected in their family values, then parents were obliged to say ‘no’.   This viewpoint had the strong support of the other panel members, Senior Constable Lisa Prince (Youth Resource Officer Glen Eira, Victoria Police), Rene D’Santanna (Senior Drug and Alcohol Counsellor, Odyssey House Victoria) and Danny Elbaum (Operations Manager, Chevra Hatzolah Melbourne, and was endorsed by JCCV president John Searle who chaired the forum.

Participants acknowledged that this is not a simple matter.  Parents naturally see themselves as the arbiters of their children’s behaviour and may well resent their parenting methods being challenged.  As was noted, however, there is a clear difference between criticism and providing information.  Hence the importance of forums such as this event which provide deeper understanding of these issues and empower participants to act as ambassadors for these critical messages.   In this regard, the involved audience - which included parents from the majority of Jewish schools, rabbonim and teachers - expressed concern that more of their peers were not there to hear the valuable information and strategies provided by the panel of speakers.  Those present committed to pass the message on to their particular communities.

The JCCV has a strong commitment to the YAP and is very encouraged by the response from both parents and students.  Earlier this week the Victorian Multicultural Commission acknowledged the YAP’s success with a grant of $10,000.00.  In announcing this grant, John Searle stated “On behalf of the JCCV and YAP I wish to thank the VMC and in particular Commissioner George Lekakis for providing this very generous funding which will enable the program to continue into 2011.  While it would obviously be preferable if the Jewish community didn’t have a problem like this, we have to make every effort to overcome it.”

In his summation of the forum, Searle noted that parents needed all possible support.  One positive way in which the JCCV could provide this was by lobbying the State government for legislative change that would make it illegal for ‘secondary suppliers’ (ie non-sellers) to provide alcohol to young people under 18 without their parents’ permission.  Such lobbying would commence after the State election this month and may involve a partnership with other faith communities.

Please address any queries to John Searle on 03 9272 5566.

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