Cuts hit school program

A PROGRAM aimed at educating primary school children about the perils of drug abuse is on the verge of collapse due to the withdrawal of funding support by the Western Australian Government.

Life Education WA is a life skills and drug abuse prevention education resource that has been made available to primary school students since it was introduced by the Rotary Club of North Perth in 1987.

The Government was providing about $175,000 per annum.

Besides Government help, the organisation’s funding has come from parents, schools, businesses and Rotary.

With the cuts to the health budget targeting non-government organisations, Life Education has had its Government funding withdrawn.

Without that funding LEWA has been forced to scale its operations back by 50 per cent.

Rotary had been able to maintain a high level of support for the resource, that is being embraced and demanded by more schools than the five caravans can service.

Rotary Club of Perth president Barry Barr said when the previous Government threatened to cease funding of the project about five years ago the groundswell of objections and criticism from schools, parents and Rotary reversed that decision.

“An understanding was struck between the [then] three District Governors and the Health Minister, that the Government, for their part, would reinstate ongoing funding in return for a commitment from Rotary and the community at large to also maintain support,” he said.

The charity has been running a Save LEWA campaign, calling on  concerned citizens to send a letter or fax to Health Minister Jim McGinty expressing their “concern and dismay” at the funding withdrawal.

LEWA provides interactive health and drug education sessions and resources for primary school communities.

Students from pre-primary to year seven participate in a variety of learning experiences in a mobile classroom to develop their knowledge and skills to make responsible decisions about their health and drugs.

The program came about through Harold Taylor and Dick Williamson who, in 1984, decided to investigate successful drug education programs for students that could be introduced to schools in WA.

Mr Williamson made contact with the Reverend Ted Noffs who was keen to expand the Life Education program to WA.

Mr Taylor was able to secure the support of the Rotary Club of North perth to make it their major project and he, in turn, took on the responsibility of managing it all.

The first mobile classroom was launched by the then Minister for Health Ian Taylor in late 1987.

A second mobile classroom was commissioned in 1989 and a third came on line in 1992.

There are currently four mobile classrooms operating around Perth and another plying the Mid West.



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