Running in the number one position for the last 25 years for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is not quite the claim to fame the area wants to highlight. But it is something that local schoolies HUB organiser Nicqui Yazdi and Phil Preston from the STEER project would like to see change.
Needing a new breathalyser to continue their work of educating the community – young and old – by providing breath tests at schools, community events and festivals; local MP Tamara Smith has steeped into the breach to help raise the final $5,000 needed for the purchase.
‘It was great, within ten minutes we we raised $5,000,’ said Tamara.
‘I donated $1,000 of my on money and with a quick ring around to Jeremy Holmes at Elements, Matthew Evans from the Falls Festival, Julie Howie at Splendour in the Grass and the Sun Bistro who all donated $1,000 each we had the money they needed to get the breathalyser in time for the schoolies HUB in Byron.
‘I’m very proud to be part of it.’
Young people who are in Byron for schools are encourage to ‘Blow Zero’ on the machine to help them delay drinking and learn about the effects of drinking on their behaviour.
The schoolies HUB will continue running until December 4 and estimate that they have had around 14,000 young people use the HUB; including around 4,000 local kids from around the region.
The purchase was auspiced by the Mullumbimby and District Neighbourhood Centre who were able to accept the donations and purchase the breathalyser on behalf of the project.
A week before schoolies Nicqui Yazdi and Phil Preston learnt they had a chance to apply for funding for a hand held breathalyser and dropped everything to get the funding application in for the community drug action team regional partnership grant from the alcohol & drug foundation
‘We are able to announce today that the funding for $9,997 has been approved,’ said Nicqui radiating delight.
This will allow the delivery of project turn-around. The project aims to address drink-driving rates in Byron Shire, by encouraging free breath testing for drivers and young people at events and encouraging those who blow over the limit to ‘turn around’ and wait until they are safe to drive, check with a second test, or make other plans for getting home.
‘It is beautiful timing. We are now planning to take the breathalysers to a range of events including all the Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce after hours drinks.’
They are still looking for donations to help with the purchase a second machine to use as part of project turn-around and are happy to hear from any generous donors.