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More than just a colloquialism – febfast is an opportunity to reset and reflect says Ambassador, Jill Stark

Each year thousands of Australians go without alcohol, sugar, or something else for the national fundraiser febfast and its beneficiary Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS). But for Higher Sobriety author Jill Stark and 2023 Ambassador, it’s an opportunity to reflect.

Jill Stark said that febfast is drawing attention to the importance of early intervention services for young people with substance dependence.

“What a lot of Australians don’t know is that Victoria is currently the only state in the country with a comprehensive and fully integrated youth alcohol and other drug service system. It’s baffling considering most people’s relationship with alcohol or drugs starts before the age of 18.”

“I look back at me when I was 14 and first started experimenting with alcohol. I was a painfully self-conscious teen, desperate to fit in. Like many teens, drinking was also a way to numb the first signs of anxiety and depression.”

“My story isn’t uncommon. But it is one of privilege. I was lucky to have a supportive family, a safe place to live, and a financially stable background. Without that, my trajectory could have been very different” Stark said.

Stark knows she’s not alone – half of all mental health conditions in adulthood emerge by age 14, and three-quarters by age 24.

The latest ABS report on alcohol consumption finds that one in four Australians aged 18 years and over are binge drinkers, with the average Australian having had their first drink at 16[1].

Another one in four (26%) of Australians aged 18 to 24 experience a mental health condition, including substance-use disorders in any given year, and 37% of young people have experienced drug-related harm before[2].

YSAS CEO, Andrew Bruun said that the young people the health service supports face unimaginable journeys, often dealing with neglect, trauma, violence and homelessness. But they also have incredible resilience when given the tools and support to overcome addiction and take control of their future. This is why early intervention is so critical.

“YSAS is the first youth alcohol and other drug service of its kind in Australia, which has been operating since 1998 and supported 60,000 young people over the past 25 years” Bruun said.

Funds raised by febfast participants support critical YSAS services and programs that provide:
• Physical & mental health support
• Detox & rehabilitation services
• Education & employment services
• Outreach services
• Secure safe housing
• Support with family relationships & connection building

Donations are still open to the febfast campaign at www.febfast.org.au

About febfast and febfit

This February, you get to choose how you’ll change young people’s lives. Pick febfast, and you can give up a vice of your choice for the whole month, and raise funds for critical drug and alcohol, education and youth leadership programs.

Choose febfit, you can get moving for 25 minutes a day to help young people walk away from addiction.

Across Australia, thousands of people take on the 28-day challenge for the month of February to raise funds for young people experiencing serious disadvantage to access the resources and support they require to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Find out more or register at www.febfast.org.au

About YSAS (Youth Support + Advocacy Service)

The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) is Australia’s largest, youth-specific community service organisation. Operating since 1998 as Victoria’s flagship Youth Alcohol and Other Drug service, YSAS now employs over 370 skilled staff across 19 sites in metropolitan and regional Victoria. While the prime focus of YSAS remains on effective Youth AOD treatment and sector leadership, the organisation also has extensive experience in providing young people and families with services that support improved mental health and improve meaningful community participation.

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics, online, 2020-2021. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/alcohol-consumption/latest-release

[2] Deloitte Frontier Economics, Kessler (2022) Social Return on Investment in Youth Work Report https://www.yacvic.org.au/assets/Uploads/Youth-Affairs-Council-Victoria-Social-Return-on-Investment-Study-of-Youth-Work-Final-Report-V2.pdf

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