Social media starts the conversation to reduce heavy drinking

Released on 20th March 2015

cohealth is using powerful social media messages developed by and for marginalised African-Australian men to reduce heavy drinking in their community.

The cohealth ‘be a brother’ project, funded through the VicHealth Innovation Challenge: Alcohol grants project, will recruit peer mentors aged 16-25 from the African-Australian community to develop highly shareable video clips and social media content.

Augustino Daw from Sudan is a Lead Peer Mentor on the project. He says he wanted to open the door on a difficult issue.

“It’s a fact that many young African men are drinking heavily – but the community isn’t talking about it.

“We think that the best way to start the conversation is to get young African men to work together to change the culture around heavy drinking”

cohealth Chief Executive, Lyn Morgain, says the project builds on the successful story of arts improving the health of hard to reach people.

“We are delighted to receive this funding as part of VicHealth’s drive to develop innovative ways to reduce heavy drinking among Victorians.

“This project takes a culturally informed approach to addressing a problem identified by young men living in Melbourne’s west.

“We need to try harder to reach out and connect with people who do not see themselves represented in mainstream media, health messaging or health promotion,” Ms Morgain said. “And any representation they do see is largely negative through the reporting of crime and violence.

Ms Morgain said staff from cohealth were also raising funds in their own time to support Arts Generator programs which have experienced cuts to their government funding. As part of the Murray to Moyne bike relay, 15 riders from cohealth will ride relay for 520km in 24 hours, from Echuca to Port Fairy and have so far raised more than $5,000 to fund more of these arts/community health programs.

cohealth will work with young African men who have controlled their drinking or whose lives have been adversely affected by alcohol. Together they’ll produce peer-led social media campaigns
that define being a ‘brother’ as somebody who takes care of their friends and doesn’t push them to drink more.

Ms Morgain said that over the past five years, cohealth had become increasingly engaged with a community of African young men who are heavy drinkers, some of who carry the heavy burden of growing up amidst war and conflict.

“We have seen first hand that their alcohol consumption, and their marginalisation, is directly linked to their inability to get and keep both jobs and housing.

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