USC student’s research offers solution to festival drug use - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC student’s research offers solution to festival drug use

23 Mar 2020

Research by USC Fraser Coast Business student Olivia Hay on illicit drug use at music festivals has been showcased by one of Australia’s peak social marketing bodies.

Cancellations and postponements from the coronavirus pandemic may have taken the focus off the use of dangerous drugs in the nation’s music festival scene, but it remains a major social issue.

In the recent edition of the Australian Association of Social Marketing Viewpoint, the third-year Tourism, Leisure and Event Management student proposes a new target group and practical solutions to prevent drug taking.

After reviewing current literature as part of USC’s third-year Marketing of Social Causes subject, Olivia proposed three theory-based interventions.

“Options include electing a celebrity spokesperson to encourage people to reject music festival drug use; developing a fear-based YouTube campaign, and creating information campaigns that target high school students aged between 12 and 17,” Olivia said.

“My research suggests that current interventions to reduce drug use at music events are largely ineffective and need to be urgently reconsidered.

“It revealed a gap in targeting young people before they are old enough to go to festivals, with current and past interventions mostly aimed at music festival attendees and drug users.”

She said studies had found younger high school students were receptive to behavioural change strategies which suggested early intervention could help to alter attitudes and behaviour regarding drug use at music events.

“As a 20-year-old who frequently attends music festival, I’ve had first-hand exposure to just how common this problem is, and the constant news stories of its devastating impacts led me to develop a passion for this topic.”

The bi-monthly Australian Association of Social Marketing Viewpoint publication is a key platform for social marketers, government agencies and change makers to share their research and experiences.

Olivia’s research caught the attention of USC marketing academic and Viewpoint editor, Professor Maria Raciti.

“I designed the assessment in the social marketing course to reflect the real world practice of change makers and social marketers,” Professor Raciti said.

“Students who complete the course are job-ready for work with government agencies or social change organisations.”

Olivia, a former Fraser Coast Anglican College student who plans to work in event management and marketing when she graduates, balances her studies with part-time work in a Fraser Coast online marketing agency.

“I have been fortunate enough to recently join the JR Marketing Group where I am gaining an appreciation of digital marketing and have the opportunity to apply some of the skills and knowledge gained from my degree,” Olivia said.

“My studies have enhanced my creativity, communication and teamwork,” she said.

— Clare McKay

USC Fraser Coast student Olivia Hay

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