Take Action

It is is great that you want to take action in this important area. Here are some key steps to help you in your journey.

Collect your thoughts and facts together

Here are some questions to assist:

  • What behaviours are concerning you? What impact are these having on the community, students, school or university?
  • Are there particular students and/or other people or groups that are associated with the behaviours? Who are these people and what connection do they have to the school/university?
  • Are there particular times or activities that are associated with the problems? How is this affecting the school/university or community?
  • Are there particular places/areas that are associated with the problems?
  • How is the alcohol being sourced/supplied?
  • How long have the problems been occurring, or are the problems new and if so what has changed?
  • Are the problems associated with a licensed premises? Do the problems indicate there could be breaches of the licence conditions? Have there been any enforcement issues raised by the regulatory agencies? For more information, click on Licensing.
  • Does the school/university have links to the alcohol industry e.g. sponsorships? If so what is the nature of these links?
  • Who owns any building/facilities associated with the problems? Who is responsible for their care and maintenance?
  • Who are the people who make decisions relating to the school/university – e.g. Board of Trustees, Principal, Vice Chancellor? Who are the people who have responsibilities for student health and well-being – Proctor, student health services, Public Health nurses? Do you have any connections with any of these people?
  • Are you aware of any existing policies or programmes aimed at addressing alcohol-related harm?
  • Are you aware of others who share your concerns?
  • What do you think might improve the behaviour and reduce the risks?

Download the above questions as a checklist

Discuss your concerns

Communicate your concerns to any person/people you believe are responsible.

If you’d like to talk with someone else before you do this connect with our online group, please log in to your facebook account to join. 


Where problems with drinking arise, it is important that help for drinking is sought. Please refer to the risky drinking section.

One approach may be to start a conversation with your school or university about what systems are in place to support the provision of screening and brief intervention.

You may want to connect up with the health promotion team at your District Health Board and discuss how your school or university could be linked into any screening and brief intervention services.

Learn more about brief intervention approaches so that you can be an advocate for increasing the use of them, please click here.   


Developing a School Alcohol Policy 

The most effective policies are ones developed with those most affected.  This will help to ensure that they understand the policy, the reasons for it and how it benefits them. This in turn will help to make sure the policy is workable and support compliance with the policy.

Taking action towards the development or review of an alcohol policy will of course depend on your relationship with the school.

You could

  • Ask to see the existing policy (if there is one) and consider whether the policy addresses the issues you see occurring.
  • If it does then discuss the implementation of the policy with the School – principal, Board of Trustees.  
  • If it doesn’t then developing a new policy can be suggested.
  • You might wish to discuss issues with others, e.g. parents, students, school counsellor, Health nurse or public health team at your District Health Board in order to build support for the review or development of an alcohol policy.
  • Promote or co-ordinate a collaborative policy development process.
  • The Ministry of Education have developed guidance for schools. 

Developing a policy on the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol

Also check out the following resources developed by Hawke's Bay District Health Board:


And check out Tūturu - New Zealand's evidence-based, whole-of-school programme to reduce alcohol and drug harm:


Ensuring school balls and parties are safe 

School Balls raise a number of concerns for schools, parents, students and the community at large in relation to alcohol use and student safety. Some schools have decided not to hold balls as a result. Others continue to hold them, and have clear conditions and behaviour requirements for students attending.

It is often the pre and/or after ball functions where problems arise, rather than the ball itself. These are usually organised by student and/or parent groups. Police and health agencies tend to discourage these events.

Take Action Now

  • Make sure everyone involved with planning and managing the event is aware of the legal obligations concerning the supply of alcohol to young people, and the risks of supplying alcohol to young people.
  • This link includes an advice sheet on School Balls by the Police, and other useful information and links regarding alcohol and schools


  • If problems arise from a school ball or associated event use the incident log to record these.
  • These can be discussed with the school and/or the Police, Local Council licensing inspector or Public Health unit. These discussions can be aimed at ensuring that planning for any future events is improved or that the school considers whether a school ball will be held in future.


Health Promoting Schools and Universities 

It is sometimes useful to consider addressing alcohol issues in a broader health context. There may be other initiatives underway or that could be considered to align or co-ordinate community action with.

Take Action Now

Resources for secondary schools 

Resources for tertiary institutes