TERROR ON THE PENINSULA
Australia has never been at greater risk of a terrorist attack than it is today, according to Michael Keenan, he Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism.
With the national terrorism threat level at 'probable', a risk level not reached since September 2014, this means the government has credible intelligence showing there are, at present, people capable and ready to commit terrorist attacks.
As a result, two local residents - former TV producer Sallie Stone and her partner Paul Jordan, a former elite SAS trooper - are running workshops on how you can be prepared and survive.
"A terrorist attack can play out in many different ways -it's never black and white," says Sallie, who formed Cactus Cat Productions 15 years ago, which provides training and workshops for high-risk environments.
"In these situations, it's important to have critical thinking skills and be able to come up with your own solutions to potential problems."
Ms Stone, who provides training to governments and international media before they're deployed to war-torn countries, says they have recently been inundated with requests from Pittwater schools to teach their course.
As a result, the former 60 Minutes producer enlisted the help of renowned child psychologist, Michael Carr-Gregg, to design a three-hour workshop for adolescents called Survival Mode.
They customise each workshop to the adolescents using popular local venues in the work sheets, like images of Warringah Mall and Warriewood Square, so the teenagers identify with it in their day-to-day life.
"The most popular requests we've had from the peninsula are for the three-hour workshops from people in the 15 to 20-year-old age bracket," she tells Peninsula Living.
"Schools all over Australia have a lock down system overseen by the education department. However, we aim to give kids critical thinking skills for their social lives - what to be aware of at shopping malls, food halls, concerts or markets - places where they might have to make their own decisions on survival."
Ms Stone says the course is about empowerment. "We want teenagers to walk into a food hall and take that couple of seconds to look around and work out where the exits are. We also do exercises about learning when to run, where to hide, and when to fight back."
They also teach basic medical skills aimed at keeping themselves and their friends alive until help arrives.
"An active shooter or stabber scenario is usually over in two to five minutes," Sallie adds. "Police can take up to 8 to 15 minutes to get there, while medical support can take up to 30 minutes.
"When police arrive, they seek out the offenders and lock down the scene, so it's important for people to be able to keep themselves alive. It can take minutes to die from severe blood loss. We teach kids how to stop a bleed that could take their life."
Before each workshop, the youngsters complete the Kessler 10 survey - a basic mental health check to make sure there aren't any existing anxiety issues.
Lulu Collins from Narrabeen has completed the Survival Mode workshop.
"The number one thing I took away from the workshop were the medial exercises - like learning to put on a tourniquet really fast. I also was surprised to learn you can choose to switch your mind into survival mode, and commit to staying alive," the 16-year-old tells Peninsula Living.
"Attacks are on the news a lot so it's not like you can escape it. I know some simple skills that I'd use. I still worry a bit but now I feel like I could deal with it if it happens.
" Lulu believes peninsula locals should attend the course to "stay aware and informed".
"My friends and I now chat about it when we're out. Someone looks for the exits or we talk about better places to stand or to sit in crowded areas," she says.