An award-winning, hard-hitting Australian short film about a teenager’s party with tragic consequences is changing teen viewers’ behaviour around drinking and parties.
The Gathering tells the story of a group of friends who organise a spontaneous ‘gathering’ when parents are away for the weekend. Fuelled by an abundance of alcohol and gatecrashers, events spiral out of control with devastating consequences that will impact on the lives of the friends and their families forever.
Warning: This film contains frequent coarse language and adult themes.
The Gathering is a fictional drama but was inspired by the real-life party experience of Emily Amerego, the daughter of the council officer who made the film. As a young teenager, Emily discovered she didn’t have the skills to cope when a friend got alcohol poisoning at a party.
“She could have quite easily died and we had no idea,” Emily told the ABC’s 7.30 Report. “Just because people don’t tell you, you know, when it gets to that point, what do you do?”
Emily’s mum Janet, the City of Melville Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, recognised that there was a gap in Australian education material that reflects the contemporary teenage drinking culture.
“She could have quite easily died and we had no idea”
Janet told the 7.30 Report: “We wanted to make it as realistic as possible and we workshopped the scripts with 150 young people to basically make sure that the language, the characters, the scenarios were as credible as possible.”
The Gathering shows ways to prevent and minimise alcohol-related harm. More than 500 schools and organisations across Australia have shown the film and it has received an Australian Teachers of Media award in the category of Best Secondary Resource.
A recent independent evaluation of the film found that 75 per cent of students who viewed The Gathering agreed they would now always have a plan in place if they drank alcohol. Around seven in 10 students found it easy-to-understand, attention-grabbing, realistic and memorable. Those who viewed it have remembered at least one strategy to prevent or minimise alcohol-related harm in the future.
“After watching the DVD, fewer respondents believed they were mature enough to consume alcohol, which is a really important shift in young people’s thinking,” said City of Melville Chief Executive Officer Dr Shayne Silcox.
Many high schools have already purchased the DVD, which comes with a teacher resource linked with the Year 10 Health and Physical Education, Health Studies and English Learning Area. But parents have also shown much interest, with some even purchasing copies to give to their schools.
Janet suggests interested parents use the school’s Parents’ Council to draw attention to the DVD and resource and encourage the schools to utilise it. “I think that schools are generally very receptive to parents’ concerns, particularly in such an important area which has a significant impact on the welfare of students,” she said.
Visit the City of Melville website for more information on The Gathering or contact 1300 635 845.