Advocacy Course in Ljubljana
21-22 July 2010
Ljubljana, Slovenia

The advocacy course in Ljubljana took place on July 21st and 22nd 2010 at the premises of Public Health Institute of the Republic of Slovenia and was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Health of Slovenia.

The course was delivered by Vesna-Kerstin Petrič, MD, MSc, head of Department of health promotion and healthy life style at the Ministry of Health of Slovenia, with international experience in train the trainers' advocacy courses in tobacco control;

Sandra Rados Krnel, MD, PgD in management, head of the research unit at the National Institute of Public Health, participant of the train the trainers' advocacy course in Barcelona, November 2009;

Matej Kosir, B. Pol. Sc, director of the non-governmental organization Institute "Utrip", practicing advocate in alcohol policy;

Mirjana Radovanovič, MD, MSc, practitioner and researcher at the alcohol unit, Psychiatric University Clinic of Ljubljana;

Tadeja Hocevar, B. Comm. Sc., Project officer in the research unit at the National Institute of Public Health; participating in the management of BCP.

The aims of the course were:

The 18 participants were public health professionals from regional public health institutes and representatives of various NGOs, working in different public health areas in Slovenia. Majority had no experience in alcohol policy advocacy and their knowledge in alcohol policy was very diverse.
pdf icon small Participants List

Methods and materials
The programme of the course, materials and the methods were prepared on the basis of the manual and materials from the advocacy train the trainers' course in Barcelona and adapted to Slovenian context and circumstances.

The course was participatory and the methods applied were inputs, brainstorming, feedback and key reading. In addition role acting was introduced to provide an opportunity for the participants to test their knowledge and skills in practical situation. In each session an opportunity was given to participants for questions and answers.

The course leaders were participating as presenters or assistants in all sessions providing information and support during the practical work on request.

The materials given to the participants included the two WHO publications: Handbook for action to reduce alcohol related harm and Evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm; a list of key stakeholders in alcohol policy in Slovenia (xls spreadshet 390 kb); the article "Stakeholders' interests identified through their views on the alcohol policy measures in Slovenia" by Sandra Rados Krnel; and a list of national and international internet data sources, relevant to alcohol policy.

Participants were referred to the BCP web page for additional materials and prior to the course asked to in advance download the Alcohol in Europe Report from the EC web page. They were also referred to the key national and international legislation and strategies in alcohol policy. The handouts were available on the BCP web page and were send to participants by e-mail after the course.

At the end of the course the participants, attending the course, were given a certificate of participation.

The programme
The programme was prepared in the national language and in summary included:

Introduction (1 hour): in this session the aims and scope of the course were presented and the methods of working were explained. The course leaders and participants presented themselves and briefly explained their motives to participate in the course and their expectations.

Session I - Advocacy in alcohol policy workshop (1 hour 30 minutes): In a participatory manner including questions and answers opportunities and feedbacks from the participants the basics of advocacy were introduced. During short interactive exercises participants tried to define what is advocacy, who are alcohol policy advocates, who are potential partners and messengers and where are reliable sources for developing alcohol policy advocacy arguments. They discussed their own potentials for advocacy and tested their skills in short role acting exercises.
pdf icon small Download presentation from Vesna-Kerstin Petric

Session II - Defining the problem, effective alcohol policy measures and the goals (1hour 30 minutes): Participants discussed harmful effects of alcohol drinking for individuals and for society and cost-effectiveness of alcohol policy measures. In an exercise the goals of alcohol policy advocacy were defined. WHO publications were used as background materials.

Session III - A plan for action (1 hour 30 minutes): In this session participants were divided into three groups and after a short introduction worked in groups to develop an action plan for advocacy in one of the following areas: drinking and driving, advertising, price. The session was concluded by reporting on the work done.

Session IV - A good plan, what next (1hour 30 minutes): In this morning session participants tested their knowledge and skills in several exercises. They worked in groups to develop arguments in those areas of alcohol policy in which APs were written the previous day. In addition stress/burn-out, related to demands of advocacy, and how to cope with it was discussed with participants.

Session V - Coalition building (1hour 30 minutes): Developing partnership and creating coalition was the main focus of this session. Group work and reporting followed the introduction by one of the course leaders. Participants were introduced to the newly created web page MOSA, an internet forum in Slovenia that presents an opportunity to create partnerships and mobilize for action.
pdf icon small Download presentation from Sandra Rados Krnel

Session VI - Working with media (1hour 30 minutes): After a short introduction participants were divided into three groups to develop a media plan for each of the areas of action (drinking and driving, advertising, price) and to formulated messages/articles that could be used by media. Media campaigns were discussed and in an exercise using internet participants had to choose who was behind different media campaigns: industry or alcohol policy professionals.
pdf icon small Download presentation from Matej Kosiir

The course concluded with a question and answer session and the feedback given by participants. Participants were also asked to fill in evaluation forms.

Coffee and lunch brakes were used for networking among the course team and the participants.

Evaluation results:

Observations of the trainers:

1. Despite the proposed reading of the report Alcohol in Europe and some other national materials prior to the course, one additional introductory day would be beneficial to equalize knowledge of participants on alcohol policy before introducing the advocacy principals and skills. Although the trainers managed to provide information and answered all emerging questions during the advocacy exercises, different aspects of alcohol policy and national/international context would better be discussed in advance.

2. There are certain advantages to have more than one/two trainers and the assistant involved in the training: One should count with participants having very limited experience in advocacy. Sharing experiences of different trainers in advocacy with participants and discussing it has proved to be a valuable method for making the input sessions more participatory. At the same time, in the brainstorming sessions, where participants were divided into three groups, there was more focus and more participants got actively involved, if one of the trainers was available for questions throughout the exercise. Different presenters with their different styles made the course also more dynamic and assured immediate peer feedback.

3.  Networking of participants during the course and after the course could be regarded as one of the strongest components of the course. When concluding the course, participants should be given information on partners, conferences/events, projects, web pages and other opportunities for future communication and cooperation.

4. Organizing an advocacy course at the country level demands using national materials and examples. Special attention should be given to the national context and potential partners within this context.

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