Peace Education Program in Alice Springs

    Drawing on his experience as a medical practitioner and a Peace Education Program (PEP) facilitator in chronic mental health facilities and prisons, Dr Andrew Ramsay helped initiate and support PEP in the Commit2Change program in Alice Springs. Dr Ramsay has seen first-hand the positive outcomes of PEP as a non-clinical intervention.

    Since commencing the Commit2Change program in 2018, a part of Drug and Alcohol Services Australia, 120 to 150 participants have graduated from the PEP to the end of 2019, with a new program starting this year. Dr Ramsay has observed that the program motivates and encourages well-being and helps participants by building on and creating awareness of their own innate resources such as clarity, inner strength and appreciation.

    The awareness of these innate human qualities enables young people to have awareness of their own sense of personal worth and self-esteem, giving them an alternative coping mechanism to drugs and alcohol. Dr Ramsay explains that dealing with a difficult life “ Is like climbing a cliff and drugs and alcohol can be the ropes that help someone climb the cliff. Those ropes cannot be taken away without supplying a replacement ‘help up’ and that replacement help can be found within a young person's own self.”

    The PEP Facilitators in Alice Springs are Craig Thorogood and Lyndsey Lloyd, who have extensive experience in disability, youth and aged residential care, prison and youth detention, post suicide and the Stand By Program, AOD and mental health and the community service sector in Alice Springs. They have found that the outcomes for the clients from PEP are most encouraging, citing some of the comments made by graduates -

    “PEP has changed my life. I am using the skills in everyday life.”

    “The program has given me a purpose in life.”

    “Now I have self-respect, I do not want to re-offend.”

    “I now want to become a co-facilitator of PEP.”

    Family members of PEP graduates have also expressed that they have seen positive changes in their loved ones.

    Craig and Lyndsey bring a unique understanding and perspective when running the program within the Alice Springs community with lived experience with AOD and Indigenous mental health first aid and Aboriginal languages.

    Dr. Ramsay, Craig and Lyndsey were to do a presentation on the Commit2Change PEP at the AADANT drug & alcohol conference in Alice Springs in April. Due to risks with the COVID-19 virus the conference has been postponed to September 2020.

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