Mass gatherings of young people, such as outdoor music festivals and Schoolies Week, are key sites for serious public health issues including excessive alcohol consumption and drug use.
Current hard-line policies that focus exclusively on curtailing these activities have been unable to stem the negative health outcomes that are annually reported and associated with mass youth gatherings. In contrast, harm minimisation policies focus on providing information and support so that young people can make their own informed decisions.
Professor Hutton will outline the strategies for safer and more supportive mass gatherings and the policies that will lead to positive future health outcomes for today’s youth.
About the speaker
The University of Newcastle’s Professor Alison Hutton of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, is recognised as a world leader in mass gathering health and research. Her research revolves around health promotion and harm minimisation in young people, and providing safe and supportive environments at youth events.
Outdoor music festivals and Schoolies Week are a significant proportion of mass gatherings in Australia each year. Professor Hutton's research has shown that a combination of strategies – including dry zones, on-site first aid, supportive volunteer presence, free water and pastoral care – can increase safety and reduce hospitalisations.
Collaborating with community groups in the development of her work, Professor Hutton is the Immediate Past President of the Mass Gathering section of the World Association for Disaster Emergency Medicine (WADEM) and the Vice President Special Interests and Activities of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) virtual inter-disciplinary advisory group, Mass Gathering Collaborating Centre for High Visibility/High Risk Events. In the paediatric space, Professor Hutton is the Immediate Past President of the Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare, an NGO which advocates for the rights of children and their families.