North Coast

Ryan Hardy from Murwillumbah, with his nan, aged 84, who he cares for. Ryan shared his personal story at the recent RRISK workshops in Northern NSW. Image: contributed

RRISK program upskills young people to stay safe

A NSW Health program is helping Northern Rivers students by providing them with the tools to make informed decisions about alcohol, drugs, driving and partying.

Ryan Hardy recently shared his recovery story with 1,500 Year 11 students as part of the ‘Reduce Risk Increase Student Knowledge (RRISK)’ program.

Ryan said his life changed when he crashed his car and spent two years recovering from a severe head injury, amnesia, a broken collar bone and broken pelvis.

“A few minutes can change your life,” Mr Hardy said.

“I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake as me. I was driving the speed limit, but on a wet road – I needed to drive to the conditions.”

Crashes involving P-plate drivers account for 15 per cent of all fatalities on NSW roads.

Young drivers are also most at risk in the first six months after they first get their probationary license.*

Northern NSW Local Health District’s Health Promotion Program Coordinator, Avigdor Zask said RRISK provides useful survival tips to help young people handle the risks associated with alcohol and drugs, driving and partying.

“RRISK is not about telling young people what to do, it’s about sharing the knowledge and skills young people need to keep themselves and their friends safe,” Mr Zask said.

Despite the RRISK program moving online for the first time due to COVID-19,

25 schools attended over three days across the Northern Rivers.

“Participants said some of the information gave them quite a shock, but even when it was confrontational, they appreciated getting the information they needed to keep themselves and their friends safe,” Mr Zask said.

Key tips from the RRISK program include:

  • Plan Ahead: Know where you are going and how you’re getting home – make a plan B.
  • Know the facts: Be aware and opinionated – make sure you own your decisions and stick with them even if pressured.
  • Make informed decisions: Think before you act – use your own moral compass.
  • Reduce Risks: Use proactive strategies to minimise harm: Put your mobile in the glovebox when you drive and download the Emergency+ app. Emergency+ is a free app that uses GPS to help emergency services find you no matter where you are.
  • Look after friends: Don’t let friends drive under the influence and know what to do in an emergency – don’t hesitate to call 000 (or use the Emergency + app) for help.

More resources and driver tests can be found at: https://bit.ly/RRISKresources.

Factual information on alcohol and other drugs for young people is available on the NSW Health website,

YourRoom: yourroom.health.nsw.gov.au.

* Source: NRMA, come-home-safe.pdf (mynrma.com.au)

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